Opponents of the megadeal to bring 25,000 or more prime Amazon jobs to Long Island City are digging in — determined not only to kill the project but at least maim the city and state economic development programs that made HQ2 NYC even conceivable.
Nonstarters include a loopy proposal from Assemblyman Ron Kim and Sen.-elect Jessica Ramos to “repurpose corporate welfare funds to buy and cancel distressed student debt.”
This much is clear: Tax breaks and other corporate aid need an update to adjust to boom times and supersized employers. Also clear: Going off half-cocked doesn’t fix what’s broken about the widely used programs, relied on by thousands of businesses across the state and not going anywhere.
The Legislature needs to join a journey begun by the City Council, which passed a law last year to have the Independent Budget Office review tax breaks one by one to ensure they still deliver more than they cost.
Coinciding with the Amazon announcement, the IBO released its first report, finding that two longtime programs that set the city back $27 million last year don’t yield measurable benefits — and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilman Danny Dromm called on the Legislature to end them.
The Senate and Assembly should take matters from there — then rely on the IBO and Council for guidance on what to do about other tax breaks, including the two, the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program and Relocation and Employment Assistance Program, that force the city to grant Amazon $1.2 billion in relief (keeping in mind that ICAP a decade ago replaced an obscenely more generous break that still deprives the city budget of billions).
The Legislature will get another bite at Big Apple economic aid because the $1.2 billion Gov. Cuomo committed under the state Excelsior program exceeds the amount currently authorized — a chance to recalibrate the assistance to ensure it’s not a giveaway for jobs businesses would have added anyway.