New York State Budget Director Says Lawmakers Who Opposed Amazon Were of 'Fundamental Ignorance'

New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica penned an open letter Friday to blast state and federal lawmakers and some unions that openly opposed Amazon building its second headquarters (HQ2) in New York City.

Mujica called the Amazon deal the "single greatest economic development opportunity" in New York for the last quarter of a century, and said those who opposed it because of "Twitter" pressure don't understand economics, as it leaves a stain for future companies that could potentially want to do business in the state.

The budget director wrote the lengthy letter posted on the governor's website as a way to help New Yorkers understand what went wrong, and how they can learn from it in the future, he said.

"Make no mistake, at the end of the day we lost $27 billion, 25,000-40,000 jobs and a blow to our reputation of being 'open for business,' Mujica wrote. "The union that opposed the project gained nothing and cost other union members 11,000 good, high-paying jobs."

Mujica said those politicians who said the $3 billion Amazon would get in tax subsidies could be better managed through housing or transportation have a "fundamental ignorance" of basic math and economics.

"Incredibly, I have heard city and state elected officials who were opponents of the project claim that Amazon was getting $3 billion in government subsidies that could have been better spent on housing or transportation," Mujica wrote. "This is either a blatant untruth or fundamental ignorance of basic math by a group of elected officials. The city and state 'gave' Amazon nothing."

Mujica said Amazon would actually pay $27 billion in revenues for the city and state, which is a 9-to-1 ratio of the actual tax relief Amazon would receive. And Amazon would only get the $3 billion subsidy if it created between 25,000-40,000 jobs. The tax credits programs through the city and state were built into the proposal, and the subsidy only goes up to $3 billion.

"You don't need to be the State's Budget Director to know that a nine to one return on your investment is a winner," Mujica said.

Furthermore, Mujica railed against some legislators who signed off on the proposal when the city was competing with more than 200 cities across North America for HQ2, but later spoke out against Amazon coming to town.

"These same elected officials all signed a letter of support for Amazon at the Long Island City location and in support of the application. They were all for it before Twitter convinced them to be against it," Mujica wrote. "While there is always localized opposition, in this case it was taken to a new level. The State Senate transferred decision-making authority to a local Senator, who, after first supporting the Amazon project, is now vociferously opposed to it, and even recommended appointing him to a State panel charged with approving the project's financing. Amazon assumed that the hostile appointment doomed the project."

The state budget director then compared the politicians to a dog chasing a car, not knowing what to do once they caught it. He said they are flip-flopping and trying to place blame elsewhere.

"Opposing Amazon was not even good politics, as the politicians have learned since Amazon pulled out. They are like the dog that caught the car. They are now desperately and incredibly trying to explain their actions. They cannot," Mujica said. "They are trying to justify their flip-flopping on the issue with false accusations that it was a 'backroom deal.' Let's remember that as a condition of the competition, every bid was sealed to prevent governments from altering their bids to be more competitive."

Mujica said the next-biggest economic development project the state has completed in his 23 years of working at the capitol created about 1,000 jobs — which is quite miniscule compared to what Amazon projected.

All cities in New York who proposed bids for HQ2 submitted them through the Empire State Development, which said it supported numerous bids as long as their communities and local elected officials supported those plans.

The Long Island City plan was all-systems-go and celebrated by New Yorkers as a colossal win. It was the slam dunk to win a championship, but some lawmakers called foul and spokely loudly for what Mujica calls a "vocal minority."

"The seventy percent of New Yorkers who supported Amazon and now vent their anger also bear responsibility and must learn that the silent majority should not be silent because they can lose to the vocalminority and self-interested politicians," Mujica said.

Mujica went on to say it was some lawmakers playing politics and not "responsibly governing" that led to the city and state's huge loss.

"It was wrong to manage this issue as if it were a single legislator's political prerogative on a local matter. This was not a traffic signal or local zoning issue," Mujica wrote. "Losing the Amazon project was not just a blow to Queens County, it hurt the whole State from Long Island to the Capitol Region's nanotechnology corridor to the emerging Panasonic plant in Buffalo, and it was a bad reflection on every single local elected official. Legislators must realize there is a difference between playing politics and responsibly governing."

After scrapping plans for the Long Island City site, Amazon said it would not move HQ2 to another location, but plans to move forward with its Northern Virginia site that was to split headquarters location with New York.

New York State Budget Director Says Lawmakers Who Opposed Amazon Were of 'Fundamental Ignorance' | U.S.