Cuomo pushes back on claim that New York 'gave' Amazon $1B: 'Factually baseless'

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is pushing back against claims that New York "gave" Amazon $1 billion to lure the retail giant's second headquarters to a location in Queens.

"The New York Post, which is representative of extreme conservatives, says essentially that New York 'gave Amazon $1 billion,' " Cuomo wrote in an op-ed published Monday. "Their argument is factually baseless.

"New York State and New York City gave Amazon nothing."

He wrote that New York agreed to reduce the $1 billion Amazon was projected to pay the government by about $100 million.

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"New York doesn't give Amazon $100 million. Amazon gives New York $900 million."

"Nothing in the Amazon transaction is new," Cuomo added, writing that such practices have bipartisan support and are found elsewhere in the country. 

"One could argue that in a perfect world no city or state would be legally allowed to offer incentives and there would be no competition for individuals or businesses," Cuomo wrote. "True. But this is not a perfect world.

"Our state is in an intense daily competition with other states and, indeed, other countries."

The Post in an editorial referenced an article from TheRealDeal that noted that Amazon will automatically qualify for New York's Relocation Employment Assistance Program. That program, according to TheRealDeal, gives companies a $3,000 tax credit per employee for 12 years. If Amazon brought in the 25,000 employees it intends to, then it would receive $900 million in credits over the next 12 years.

Cuomo also went after "the socialists" who he said argue that New York "gave a $1 billion grant to one of the richest men in the country."

"Once again, it is a politically appealing argument; but also, it is once again wrong," he wrote, arguing that the $900 million in revenue Amazon would bring would be lost without the incentives. 

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) slammed New York for its deal with Amazon last week, saying the tax breaks were "extremely concerning to residents."

The governor also hit The New York Times, which he said argued against the decision.

"The New York Times itself makes the same economic decisions and has also received significant tax benefits from New York State and New York City in making decisions on their locations," Cuomo wrote. "In fact, when the Times announced in 2001 that it would move into a new building in Times Square, it received tens of millions in tax breaks from New York City."

He noted that the Times asked New York to override city zoning processes over local opposition.

The Times posted an editorial critical of the Amazon deal, arguing that the state will give Amazon $1.525 billion via a series of state agencies over the next 10 years.

Cuomo added many of the local officials who now oppose the project "signed a letter supporting the application for the same location knowing full well it was a national competition in which states and cities were putting together incentive packages.

"These same officials voted and authorized the long-standing economic development programs deployed in the Amazon transaction. It is pure political posturing."

The Hill has reached out to the Post and Ocasio-Cortez for comment. 

A spokesperson for the Times told The Hill in a statement, "The New York Times editorial referenced by Gov. Cuomo argues that New York City and Arlington were primarily chosen by Amazon because they have the largest pool of tech workers, not because of financial incentives."

"The editorial board points to the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia (which negotiated on behalf of Arlington) offered far less and other cities (who were not selected) offered far more."

"And while the editorial expresses skepticism of the effectiveness of tax incentives for economic development, it clearly acknowledges that The New York Times Company has also been a beneficiary," the spokesperson concluded.

Updated at 2:31 p.m.