Amazon is building a second headquarters, and the corporation is looking for a metro region “with more than one million people,” a “stable and business-friendly environment,” an “international airport,” and close proximity “to major highways and arterial roads.”
Predictably, Albuquerque’s “economic developers” will be pitching the Duke City to former resident Jeff Bezos, the online retailer’s commandant. Expect their proposal to contain the standard blather about “Albuquerque Rapid Transit,” national laboratories, a “budding” tech sector, and plenty of sunshine to meet Amazon’s fetish for “sustainability.”
Don’t expect much discussion of the two factors that could influence the company’s decision the most.
Our friends at the Washington Policy Center, which keeps its eyes on state and local government in the Evergreen State, note that during a radio interview, a Democratic lawmaker representing King and Snohomish Counties offered a revealing quote:
“It’s well documented that when Jeff was driving across country and writing the Amazon business plan, he was looking at Texas, Washington, and I think there was one other state. And one of the major things he was looking at was no state income tax. Had we had an income tax back in 1995, we wouldn’t have Amazon.”
Then there’s unions. Big Labor’s bosses haven’t been embraced by Amazon — hardly surprising, given the company’s need to be nimble and low-cost in a ruthlessly competitive industry.
New Mexico could pass a right-to-work law tomorrow, and as for the income tax, it’s a minor player in the state’s fiscal architecture. In the 2016 fiscal year, it generated a whopping 4.04 percent of the revenue raised for all state spending.
Given the metro region’s crime and lack of an educated workforce, it’s a safe bet that Albuquerque won’t be picked when Amazon announces the feeding frenzy’s victor in 2018. However, that’s no reason for legislators to avoid making the obvious — if politically difficult — reforms that are sure to lure others over the long term.