Cuomo says de Blasio’s 421a plan is too developer-friendly

Surprising comments come after the mayor called for action in Albany this week

From left: Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio
From left: Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio

In an uncharacteristic move, Governor Andrew Cuomo characterized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed 421a reform package as a giveaway to developers that fails to protect workers.

“The city has a package that is criticized as being too rich to the developers and a giveaway to the developers, and you’re not paying the workers a fair wage,” Cuomo said Thursday after touring an upstate prison. “That is a very bona fide discussion, and that has to be figured out, or not. And it’s very technical and it’s very controversial.”

The governor approved the current version of 421a in 2013 and was not supported by labor leaders in his 2014 campaign, according to Capital New York. He has also received more campaign contributions from the Real Estate Board of New York than any other politician — making this new stance surprising.

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“It’s very complicated, 421-a, and what’s the fair balance between breaks for developers,” Cuomo said. “A lot of people think the deal that’s been negotiated by the city is too rich for developers and doesn’t do enough for workers. I want to make sure the workers are protected and the developers get a fair deal. But I am not interested in passing a program that is a giveaway to the developers.”

De Blasio’s proposal, negotiated with and supported by REBNY, calls for an end to 421a for condo projects and a required inclusionary policy for affordable units to be built in buildings receiving the tax breaks.

But while his plan includes a prevailing wage requirement for service workers employed in the 421a buildings, it leaves out this requirement for construction workers. AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka recently called the proposal “disappointing.”

Earlier this week, de Blasio called for Cuomo to assert his leadership and act on 421a and rent regulation, which may have spurred the governor’s most recent remarks. [Capital NY] — Tess Hofmann