State Senator Marty Golden sponsored a bill that provides huge tax breaks for Manhattan luxury apartment building developers. The New York Daily News is reporting that legislation backed by Golden designates tax breaks for five developments, costing the city tens of millions of dollars as the city wrangles with an already starved budget.
One of the buildings eligible for a tax break includes One57, a massive 75-story luxury apartment development being built near Central Park. Believing that the legislation will help create jobs, Golden otherwise pleaded ignorance when questioned on the breaks.
“These projects were ready to go,” Golden told the Daily News. “I’m not sure where they came from,” Golden said in response to who earmarked the developments for special favor.
The bill’s sponsor in the Assembly, Keith Wright, a Manhattan Democrat, was also unsure for who and why the tax breaks were included.
“These five properties — it was important that they benefit from the piece of legislation probably, and I don’t know why, because some of the folks in the Senate wanted them to be included,” Wright told the Daily News.
The answer as to why the developments got special favors was not surprising. The Daily News discovered that significant campaign contributions were made to various state campaign committees:
The developers of four of the projects, their relatives and affiliated companies gave $1.5 million to various state campaign committees during 2008-12 — including $440,962 last year, records show.
The contributions included $53,000 to the state Senate Republican campaign treasury, $34,000 to the war chest of Assembly Democrats and $150,000 to the campaign of Gov. Cuomo, who signed the bill Jan. 30.
Advocates of campaign finance reform saw this measure as another example of how the system is broken.
“That real estate developers were able to win such a huge giveaway is a reflection of . . . just how broken the current campaign finance system is,” Jaron Benjamin, president of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, told the Daily News. “The reason Albany lawmakers agreed to spend millions subsidizing luxury housing for the wealthy is clear: Developers who contributed to their campaigns . . . expected to be rewarded.”
City Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu sent out a press release today blasting the actions of the Senate and Assembly.
“Extending tax breaks to super-luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan is wrongheaded and shows grossly misplaced priorities. It’s sad and outrageous that billionaires get huge subsidies while the Rent Guidelines Board considers significant rent increases for millions of New Yorkers. It’s especially galling that the tax abatement in question, called 421-a, was meant to promote construction of affordable housing,” Liu said in the release.