Contact: Mike Fraser, office: (518) 455-3751; cell: (518) 859-8518
Anyone who has turned on a television set in recent years has likely seen state-driven advertising, highlighting various outdoor recreational opportunities, attractions and business incentives. And taxpayers paid a hefty price for them.
Between 2011 and 2017, New York spent $354 million toward tourism and economic development advertisements. The upstate economy has continued to linger and residents have fled in droves during that same period. Despite the governor's claims, New York was never really "Open for Business."
New York State is facing a $4.4 billion budget deficit, meaning there is absolutely no room for excess, waste and inefficiency. Unfortunately, those have been the hallmarks of the governor's job-creation programs and associated promotional efforts.
WHAT'S THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT?
It's important that New York State actively promotes the attractions and unique opportunities it has to offer. But it's equally as critical to ensure taxpayers are getting a proper return on the money being invested. To date, results have been underwhelming and the lackluster performance begs the question: "Where is your money going?"
A 2015 audit from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reviewed $211 million in spending early in the campaign and found "no tangible results." That's $211 million which could be applied to reducing out-of-control taxes, or, actually growing the economy.
Between 2013 to 2015, New York spent $53 million promoting the now-defunct START-UP NY program. Once touted as a game-changing job-creation program, the governor's failed initiative only returned a paltry $1.7 million in private investment.
WE MUST REVIEW & ELIMINATE INEFFECTIVE SPENDING
Using hard-earned taxpayer dollars to promote ineffective programs is unacceptable; continuing to do so year after year is madness. With a potential fiscal crisis looming, it's never been more critical to ensure there is adequate transparency and oversight of the governor's spending.
The Assembly Minority Conference has called for greater accountability in the state's economic development programs. We have proposed legislation (A.5657-A, Oaks) that calls for a complete, independent review of all of New York's job-creation programs. In addition, our proposal would require any lump-sum appropriation of $1 million or more to be reviewed by the budget director, Comptroller and Attorney General.
The Legislature must do everything in its power to protect taxpayers. In their current form, New York's promotional campaigns and floundering job programs aren't doing that. We must take a hard, critical look at the costs and benefits of continuing on our current trajectory. This, of all years, is not one to play fast and loose with taxpayer dollars.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or email me at email@example.com.