UPDATE: Several hours after this post was published Governor Hochul’s office emailed the REMI, Inc. economic impact study described below and the term sheet for the Micron deal. The study and term sheet also can now be found on Empire State Development’s website here.
The Governor says the state’s arrangement with Micron is a great deal for residents despite the price it will exact from the state’s taxpayers. But we haven’t seen the data and analysis explaining why.
President Biden is scheduled to be in Syracuse today with Governor Hochul for the signing of the Community Investment Framework detailing Micron Technology’s community and workforce commitments for its memory chip megafab deal with the state.
Hochul’s release describes the megafab project as a “21st century Erie Canal moment” for the Empire State — one that will be fueled by the largest private investment in New York State history. But she won’t show her math.
The Governor’s office revealed the project will cost state taxpayers at least $6 billion in targeted tax subsidies and spending. But what’s the return going to be on that public investment?
Hochul says the project will yield “nearly 50,000 New York jobs including approximately 9,000 high-paying Micron jobs,” raise state GDP by $9.6 billion annually, and increase annual revenue flowing into state and local government coffers by a combined $1.38 billion.
But the public has not seen data that supports those claims.
The numbers come from an economic impact study by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI). Hochul’s initial press release cited its claims but did not provide a link to the study. It can’t be found on her website. Nor does Empire State Development link to it anywhere on its website. Empire Center’s Peter Warren submitted a request under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) for the study. The Executive Chamber told him he could expect an update on his request on November 3rd.
That makes no sense. The Legislature passed FOIL expecting agencies to provide public records within five business days of a request being made. Agencies can take up to another 20 business days in extraordinary circumstances. Here, voters should have seen the study when its results were first announced. Failing that, Hochul’s office should have provided it within days of getting the FOIL request.
Hochul herself has elevated the Micron project in the public debate in the run up to Election Day. In the debate this week with Rep. Lee Zeldin, she specifically cited the claim that the Micron project would bring 50,000 jobs to New York State.
Her reliance on the REMI study’s findings began when she issued that press release that first unveiled the Micron deal. Presumably, the staffer who wrote the press release had a copy of the study. And if the study itself was not on the top of Hochul’s reading pile, someone presumably read it and summarized it for her.
According to the Legislature, voters’ basic right to know the facts and statistics behind government decision-making is fundamental to maintaining a free society. But Hochul is hiding the math that purports to justify the state’s spending on “one of the largest economic development projects in U.S. history.”
If the Micron project is a great deal, the study that purports to prove it should bear public scrutiny.