Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) and State Senator-elect Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) yesterday unveiled their People Over Corporations Agenda (POC Agenda) to combat the state’s debt in spite of the city accepting Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2) in Long Island City (LIC).
The agenda includes New York Tax Justice, The New Yorker Financial Freedom Act, and the Anti-Monetization Clause – all components to reduce debt, particularly student debt. The progressive agenda also challenges the city and state in giving Amazon – worth $1 trillion – about $2.5 billion in subsidies while many city residents are struggling financially because of debt.
New York Tax Justice is a budget-related policy designed to penalize e-commerce and internet giants an extraction fee whenever money is extracted out of the state, and it will charge taxes on automation or AI replacing human labor.
The New Yorkers Financial Freedom Act, a bill the duo want to enact in January 2019, will create full-time careers that will specialize in reducing, and eventually ending, “corporate welfare in five years. It is a commitment to use those funds in five years toward buying, canceling, and monetizing student debt.
Anti-Monetization Clause is a policy that mandates corporations with incentives and subsidies from 2016 comply with an agreement that forbids companies from selling their incentive package to a third-party hedge fund.
Kim and Ramos’ are planning to use the Assembly’s supermajority and the Senate’s majority to leverage resistance against taxpayer money going to Amazon and the lawmakers feel it would be better spent canceling some of state’s $80 billion debt, which in turn brings down student debt.
Student loan debt is the city’s second-biggest form of debt, surpassing credit cards and auto loans and trailing behind mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
“It’s painfully obvious that from the moment that my colleagues signed on the letter in 2017, welcoming Amazon into New York City, Amazon already knew they wanted to come to our city and were focused on gaining the most favorable incentive package,” Kim said. “I am calling on the Senate, Assembly, and City Council to conduct joint hearings in support of the [POCAgenda] and on everything linked to the LIC Amazon deal.”
Ramos said the Amazon deal is like taxpayers shooting themselves in the foot.
“We are paying the company to price ourselves out of our own communities. When we’ve demanded our subway system be fixed, our schools be fully funded, and affordable housing built, we’ve been told time and again that there is no money. And now, having the opportunity to broaden our tax base, government has chosen to dole out tax breaks and incentives. Malarkey. Stop giving the people’s money to corporations and invest that money back into the people,” said Ramos.
“As a member of the generation whose purchasing power is curtailed by tremendous student debt, I commend Assembly Member Kim for leading with true New York values— putting working people first. Forgiving student debt and giving nearly 3 million New Yorkers, like me, our freedom back will spur real community development, not displacement,” she added.
Kim and Ramos are urging supporters to sign a POCAgenda petition that would be delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislative majority and minority leaders.
Kim said the #POCAgenda will be his top priority going into the 2019 Assembly session in January.