Cuomo: Senate Democrats Are ‘Playing Politics’ With Amazon
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused his fellow Democrats in the state Senate of "playing politics" by nominating a critic of subsidies for Amazon's planned campus in Queens to a state board with the power to derail the project.
The governor said on public radio that lawmakers would have to answer to the voters if their opposition to the plan scuttles the project. The comments came a day after Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins tapped the chamber's No. 2 lawmaker, Queens Sen. Michael Gianaris, to serve on the obscure but powerful Public Authorities Control Board.
"If the Senate is going to be the reason that Amazon leaves New York, I wouldn't want to be running for re-election as a Democratic Senator, I can tell you that," Cuomo said on public radio, adding that polls have shown support for the project among New York City residents.
While legislative leaders can nominate people to the board, Cuomo has the final say over appointments to the board. Each of its five members has the power to block funding for individual projects that are up for board approval. Cuomo said he hasn't decided whether he would reject Gianaris' nomination.
Gianaris has called the Amazon deal "offensive," denounced the secretive negotiations that lead to the agreement, and questioned the need for large subsidies for a wealthy global corporation. On Tuesday he shrugged off Cuomo's criticism and noted that as the second-ranking member of the Senate he is an appropriate choice for the Public Authorities Control Board.
"If they want to act like petulant children that's on them," he said of Cuomo and his administration, adding that many New Yorkers have valid concerns about the Amazon deal.
Cuomo and other supporters tout projections that Amazon's 'second headquarters' will create more than 25,000 jobs. To win the coveted project the city and state promised at least $2.8 billion in tax credits and grants.
The dispute between Cuomo and Senate Democrats played out in New York City Democratic circles as well, where Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the Amazon agreement Tuesday.
" I think some of the concerns are heartfelt," he said, "But I don't believe that when it comes down to it anyone will want to actually be responsible for losing 25,000 to 40,000 jobs."
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, however, sided with Gianaris and other critics of the deal, tweeting that Gianaris "is the right person for this appointment."