Last week, State Senator John Liu was invited by the Queens Chamber of Commerce to be the guest speaker at a networking luncheon in Bayside for its members.
Ever since Amazon decided to scrap its plans for HQ2 in Long Island City, leadership at the chamber has been highly outspoken about its support for Amazon and its disappointment with the elected officials and other groups who were opposed to bringing the online retail giant to Queens.
Because we find it fascinating that Liu used this event to be critical of a project that the group who invited him has been so supportive of, we decided to print his comments in full:
I don’t know if today’s the venue for the debate – [Queens Chamber CEO] Tom [Grech] has stepped out – but I feel like, well I’ll put it out there: the big “A” question, Amazon.
Was it the right thing? Was it the wrong thing? Did we do the right thing or the wrong thing? People have different opinions. I’ll give you my 30-second take on it, which will take about five minutes.
This is a classic example of how big behemoth businesses get subsidized at the expense of small businesses. What people say, especially the governor, is that, “we’re not giving them $3 billion. They’re giving us $27 billion!”
Well, actually, they’re supposed to give us $30 billion, according to our tax code. This is our tax code, and they’re just simply getting a 10 percent discount.
Let me ask you, how many of you get a 10 percent discount on your tax bill? Seriously. So when you look at it from my perspective, it’s actually not such a great deal because that 10 percent discount will not end with this one company.
Every other company that we try to entice and lure to Queens and to the State of New York will start demanding their 10 percent discount. Then not much later, existing companies in the state of New York will start demanding their 10 percent discount, otherwise they’ll leave to New Jersey or Connecticut or Pennsylvania.
Therein lies the quandary, who gets a discount?
By the way, it’s always going to be the biggest corporations who get the discount. That is the main justification for subsidizing Amazon, to say that “we’ll never get such a big employer here ever again.”
Only the biggest companies will have the leverage in order to get these discounts. They will always come at the expense of small business owners.
As comptroller, and now as state senator, I will continue to fight for an overall reduction in the tax burden, not for the biggest corporations, but for the small business owners.
Once again, the majority of people who work in New York work for small businesses. We need to do things that allow small businesses to thrive.
A $20,000 reduction in a small business owner’s tax bill does not entice that small business owner, who’s working around the clock all the time, to go on a vacation to Tahiti. It’s only going to entice that small business owner to reinvest that money that otherwise would’ve gone to the government via taxes.
That kind of reinvestment, what does it ultimately do? It creates jobs. Every single small business owner that can grow their business will create jobs.
In the end, that is the best way to have a vibrant, diverse, well-rounded and solid economy that will be sustainable for years to come, not based on these one-off deals with this company or that corporation, but an overall leveling of the playing field.
So that every business, large or small, will be treated equally, will know how they’re going to be treated, and will manage their businesses accordingly. That’s my 30 seconds on Amazon.
Wow, no holding back there for State Senator Liu. We’re not sure if the Queens Chamber knew the state senator was going to go down that road before he started to speak, but if they did kudos to them for letting Liu say his piece at their event.