« Does the NYC EDC's Seth Pinsky deserve credit for the Atlantic Yards arena? Not quite (but he does for other things) | Main | Behind the Times's Yankee Stadium story, a rather shameful failure to pursue balance and serve readers, according to an expert and parks advocate »

April 7, 2012

New Jersey's governor gets called out in the Times for offering tax breaks, but Bloomberg sounds like a white knight (nah)

Atlantic Yards Report

In a front-page New York Times article two days ago, Christie Leaning on Tax Subsidies in Hunt for Jobs, New York Times development reporter Charles Bagli took a tough look at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's approval of "a record $1.57 billion in state tax breaks for dozens of New Jersey’s largest companies after they pledged to add jobs."

But the nut graph gave way too much credit to New York:

The generous distribution of subsidies in New Jersey has come under fire from government-reform groups, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City and some New Jersey landlords, who contend that the programs are an expensive and ineffective form of assistance to wealthy corporations.

However Christie deserves criticism, Bloomberg is hardly pure. After all, when New Jersey tried to lure Fresh Direct, which needs proximity to neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Bloomberg more than matched the subsidies.

Times columnist Michael Powell wisely called Fresh Direct's flirtation with New Jersey "more a feint than a threat" and pointed out that the city exacted no guarantees from the grocer.

Also, I'd add, Bloomberg offered developer Bruce Ratner $100 million--and then nearly $100 million more, later--for his Atlantic Yards arena-cum-skyscrapers project, leveraged by moving the basketball Nets from NJ to Brooklyn.

And Ratner saved well over $100 million thanks to the issuance of federally tax-exempt bonds. Should the feds subsidize the movement of one sports team across state lines? That's not good public policy, but Bloomberg was fine with that.

link

Posted by steve at April 7, 2012 3:07 PM