State delegates who voted Wednesday to support the state’s multibillion-dollar tax incentive package designed to lure Amazon could end up with free crab cakes if the company chooses to build its second headquarters in Montgomery County.
Del. Pat McDonough (R-Baltimore and Harford counties), who opposed the bill, announced on the House floor he believes Amazon “ain’t coming” to Maryland and backed up his belief with the offer of crab cakes to delegates who voted in favor of the incentive package. As the legislation was poised to pass, he added he has no fear he will have to buy crab cakes for the delegates, according to Daily Record reporter Bryan Sears.
Del. Pat McDonough says he’ll buy everyone in the House of Delegates voting for the Amazon incentive bill a crab cake if they come here “because they ain’t coming.”
— Bryan P. Sears (@bpsears) April 4, 2018
The legislation passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 79-59 and will now head to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature. Hogan proposed and supports the package, valued at about $5.6 billion by the General Assembly’s nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services.
Montgomery County is one of 20 North American locations shortlisted by the company earlier this year for its new headquarters. Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., also made the list. Amazon plans to employ about 50,000 workers at the new headquarters and spend about $5 billion building it. The company intends to choose a site sometime this year.
Montgomery County’s 24-member, all-Democrat House delegation supported the measure with 23 members voting in favor. Del. Shane Robinson (D-Montgomery Village), the chair of the county’s House delegation, said the vote would have been unanimous, but Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo (D-Boyds) had an excused absence and therefore didn’t vote.
“For me, it was an easy vote,” Robinson said. “To me this isn’t about corporate welfare. This is about all the new revenue that would be coming into the state coffers should Amazon select a Montgomery County site. We’re talking about a massive number of good jobs and all the other ancillary jobs that would go along with it. I don’t understand how somebody would vote against it.”
Many Democrats opposed the bill after expressing concerns about providing Amazon, one of the most successful companies in the world, with tax breaks. Robinson said he counted more than 40 House Democrats, all from outside Montgomery County, who voted against the package.
“I know some of the other jurisdictions put in proposals to Amazon, I would be curious if their vote would have changed if it had been their jurisdiction competing instead of ours,” Robinson said.
One Montgomery County state representative did vote against the package when it came before the state Senate—Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring). Manno previously told Bethesda Beat the legislation was a “$5 billion tax break for the richest man in the world, with nothing for education, health care or worker rights. We’re better than this.” The legislation passed the senate on a 34-12 vote last month.
Though the tax credits and incentives are valued at about $5.6 billion by the General Assembly’s research office, Hogan’s office valued them at about $3 billion when the governor first proposed them. The package includes state income, property and sales tax credits for the company. The legislation does not take effect unless Amazon decides to locate its new headquarters in the state. Hogan has also proposed about $2 billion in unspecified transportation improvements to Amazon should it choose to locate in Maryland.
Hogan is working with Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett to attract the company to the county. County officials have said the White Flint area was pitched to the technology giant, but Leggett has not formally confirmed that area as the potential site. A new lawsuit centered on the former White Flint mall property asserts Amazon officials toured that site March 4.
The state’s Department of Commerce released a study in February by Baltimore-based Sage Policy Group that estimated the project would contribute about $17 billion in additional economic activity and pump about $7.7 billion into annual workers’ wages in Maryland.
Robinson said he believes the legislation will help the entire state.
“Montgomery County is the economic driver of the state and the revenue we generate in Montgomery County goes to fund very important programs and projects across the state,” Robinson said. “We’d be able to do more of that should we get the second headquarters.”