Amazon reconsidering New York HQ2 plan

Virginia Carson
February 10, 2019

According to The Post, Amazon has yet to sign a lease for office space or lock itself into anything legally binding it to its commitment to put HQ2 in New York City.

But a report in the New York Times says Amazon has no plans to back out and Mayor Bill de Blasio's spokesman Eric Phillips said Friday, "the mayor fully expects Amazon to deliver on its promise to New Yorkers". "Yes, they can", Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) declared on Friday in response to the news, which was met with glee by advocacy groups that have opposed the NY government's deal with Amazon since it was unveiled in November. Amazon's vice president for public policy, Brian Huseman, stated during a city council meeting: "We were invited to come to NY, and we want to invest in a community that wants us".

Cuomo complained that the new federal tax code that caps state and local tax deductions (SALT) on wealthy New Yorkers has triggered a drop in state tax revenues.

Supported by the NY governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, the plan has faced a torrent of opposition from elected officials, activists and unions, angry that the company is set to get up to $3bn in tax breaks and subsidies. Protestors also disrupted the hearing. About $1.5 billion of the grants for HQ2 come from the state and could go before this board, and the way the board is structured, Gianaris would have an effective veto over those funds.

New York City and the state at large pledged $2.5 billion in tax breaks for Amazon to build its headquarters in the city, arguing that the projected 25,000 jobs the company would bring to the state were worth it. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) also opposed Amazon's expansion there, telling the Fox Business Network that his goal was to see the deal "thrown into the garbage".

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Van Bramer opposes the deal while admitting the projected 25,000 jobs are important. He notes Google is coming to the city without a massive incentive package.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims the state Senate is pushing to pass a new tax on millionaires - an assertion immediately denounced as "fake news" by the Democrats who control the legislative body.

Though, protests have been a near constant over the four months since Amazon announced its move to Queens.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a link to the Post story on Friday and said: "Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world's biggest corporations?"

"If the Amazon deal falls apart, they will have nobody to blame but themselves", he said in a statement.

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The Washington Post notes that Amazon does not now have specific plans to abandon New York City. "I was elected to advocate for our community's interests - and they've requested, clearly, to voice their concerns". The state gave them massive tax breaks to try to keep them around, gutting the local government's budget and shifting to burden to the taxpayers, but the company wound up nearly entirely leaving anyway.

On that point, let's not forget that Amazon-and de Blasio and Cuomo and the EDC-is in the middle of a heavy public relations campaign to win over the public.

"I think it's a great idea", said Lorrie Tripp of Southington.

Amazon has not yet bought office space for the NY headquarters, and officials in other cities have been more enthusiastic about hosting the company.

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