A Column of News & Comment by Senator James L. Seward
As a longtime state senator, I have seen a number of economic victories in New York and have helped facilitate job creation projects that have benefited communities throughout my district. I have also been included in preliminary discussion for projects that, for one reason or another, just don’t make it to the finish line. However, I have never witnessed a more egregious, self-inflicted destruction of jobs than what occurred with the Amazon loss.
To be clear, when New York was announced as the winning site for the Amazon HQ2 project, I raised questions. The lack of transparency involved in constructing the deal was concerning. I have stated previously that we need more accountability and input when it comes to all of New York’s economic incentive programs.
But, at the end of the day, I was supportive because of the economic impact Amazon would bring to all of New York. Keep in mind, while the facility was to be located in Queens, the benefits would be statewide. Think about the revenue that 25,000 (at the low end) new jobs would create. These would have been good paying jobs, averaging $125,000 a year and generating over $27 billion in tax revenue for the entire state. Additionally, there would have been opportunities for other side businesses and I was making a push to ensure upstate would feel the benefits.
Overall, the project would have been a net positive – instead the entire state lost out thanks to the shortsightedness of a few. So where do we go now?
Here in New York State, we already know that the taxes are high and businesses are struggling to survive. Thanks to a hostile political environment and the national headlines that followed the Amazon debacle, more and more people have heard that New York is closed to business. We need to rewrite that narrative, and fast. That’s why I have joined with members of the Senate Republican conference to release a set of common-sense solutions to help fix the ailing state business climate so that more hardworking families can live, work, and thrive here at home.
The measures proposed would help reinvigorate the state economy and establish countless job opportunities for middle-class workers all across our state, and begin to undo some of the damage Senate Democrats have done by stopping the Amazon HQ2 project. As part of this comprehensive plan, I will be:
- Fighting for Meaningful Tax Cuts for Small Businesses, including a $495 million income tax exemption for small businesses & farmers, as well as a STAR program for small businesses, achieving another $275 million in savings;
- Fighting to Cut Burdensome Energy Taxes, including elimination of the 18-A Regulatory Assessment, and building upon the successful elimination of the Senate Democrats’ 18-A surcharge;
- Making the Property Tax Cap Permanent, currently a temporary measure which has saved taxpayers $37 billion since its inception, but was brought to the floor for passage this year by Senate Democrats without a three-way agreement in place for the final budget;
- Opposing any new taxes to balance the budget, including the governor’s plan to impose new taxes on internet purchases and prescription drugs, among other fees in the governor’s budget proposal;
- Calling upon the governor and legislature to enact comprehensive regulatory reform for small businesses across the state this year; and
- Pushing for much-needed needed reform of the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), so one person can never again misuse their vote to impede job growth and progress for New York.
The PACB is the board that serves as the final gatekeeper for many economic projects – including Amazon. I spoke on the senate floor during the past week in favor of a sensible amendment to change the approval needed from unanimous to a ma