Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend (R,C,I-Big Flats) is reiterating that New York is long overdue for effective oversight of the state’s generous economic development programs, which are funded at the expense of hardworking taxpayers. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently raised serious concerns over the lack of oversight exercised by Empire State Development (ESD) regarding its own programs as required by law. Embarrassingly, ESD had to get rid of $200 million worth of equipment tied to the failed ‘Buffalo Billion’ program, and it is unclear at this time how much of that investment will be recovered by sales and scrapping.
“Gov. Cuomo gleefully abused the power of ESD, which is charged with implementing fair and effective economic development programs for our state. He used it as his own personal piggy bank to bankroll pet projects to appease and line the pockets of his close allies,” said Friend. “If Gov. Hochul intends to keep those questionable programs in place, it is time we adopt legislation which would finally instill discipline to measure their success and ensure state taxpayers see a return on this investment of public funds.”
The comptroller chided ESD for poorly keeping tabs on the effectiveness of 57 programs, which cost taxpayers roughly $1.8 billion. ESD heads up many problematic Cuomo programs such as the Excelsior Jobs Program, START-UP NY and others.
On Oct. 18, the Business Journal reported that Gov. Hochul intends to continue Gov. Cuomo’s economic development competitions, but expressed willingness to hear how things could be improved. If this is the case, Friend highly encourages Gov. Hochul to look at his legislation, A.6780, which creates more transparency in spending programs like those at ESD.
The legislation would:
- Create a lump-sum allocation advisory committee;
- Require the transparency, identification and disclosure of certain appropriations;
- Withhold the salaries of the governor, agency commissioners and deputy commissioner for failing to meet reporting deadlines;
- Create a tax reduction board to investigate simplifying the state’s tax structure, in particular relating to personal income and corporate franchise tax rates;
- Prohibit political contributions by those who are appointed to entities that oversee lump-sum appropriations; and
- Prohibit certain types of problematic third-party contracts.