Last updated on February 5th, 2019
Most debates in the history would have lasted longer, but the Virginia House spent just nine minutes before voting to give Amazon up to $750 million in subsidy over 15 years. The amount has been subvented for company’s planned headquarters facility in Arlington.
The House sent the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who has affirmed to sign it. The House voted 83 to 16 in favor of the measure, which the Senate had agreed to, a week earlier.
Only two delegates spoke against the proposed deal, arguing that with the 25,000 well-paid employees coming to Northern Virginia, housing costs would substantially increase. Moreover, it is rather inexcusable that it barely took the Virginia House 9 minutes to come to the decision, while teachers are underpaid and are struggling with less than low funding for the school.
Sen. Frank M. Ruff Jr. (R-Mecklenburg), the bill’s sponsor, said it passed so easily because the advantages outweighed the cost. Amazon though would receive the subsidies only after they create the new jobs, which is estimated to generate several times more in tax revenue than the state has allotted to the company.
“I think we did our homework pretty well in the six months prior to the announcement, so we had a package that was not overly extravagant but was very appealing to the company,” said Ruff, who led a bipartisan commission that helped write the package.
Anti-Amazon activists in Northern Virginia said that they would continue to oppose the deal. This would be the case when Arlington County Board will poll on the local incentives in February or March, and also in the legislature in the coming years.
The bill will provide cash grants to Amazon of $22,000 per new full-time job for the first 25,000 jobs, up to $550million. Following which, grants of $15,564 per new job would be issued for up to 12,850 additional jobs, for a maximum sum of $200 million. The blueprint suggests that the jobs must pay an average of $1,50,000 per year.
Del. Alfonso H. Lopez (D), whose Arlington district is close to the Amazon site, voted against the package.
He said, “Folks are worried that they and the other low-income families are going to be priced out of the area’s home owning and rental markets.” He added, “I’m concerned about the impact on my community and our residents now, not on the benefits that we might see in five, seven and 10 years.”
In Arlington, county-based members showcased they were in favor of the local incentives, but were also interested in considering a proposal for worker protection, apart from a community benefits package from Amazon.