State Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Republican candidate for governor, believes procurement reform should be a legislative priority after Joe Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was convicted Tuesday on bribery and fraud charges.
DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, is the sponsor of a bill first proposed by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli that would restore the comptroller's authority to oversee contracts for the state Office of General Services and the city and state university systems.
The state comptroller lost this power in 2011.
The legislation would require state public authorities to abide by the same procurement rules as state agencies, prohibit not-for-profits from being used to bypass procurement laws, establish tougher penalties for procurement abuse and require all agencies and authorities to publish business opportunities in the State Contract Reporter.
DeFrancisco said the legislation would provide "checks and balances" to ensure economic development funding isn't being misappropriated. A major theme during the Percoco trial and in the case against Alain Kaloyeros, who led the State University of New York's Polytechnic Institute, is the link between state officials and developers either with business before the state or seeking to advance economic development projects in New York.
The bill was introduced last year, but no agreement was reached. The main reason it's unlikely to advance is Cuomo opposes the measure.
If the legislation passes, DeFrancisco said there is "less a chance of stuff like this happening."
DeFrancisco has also introduced a bill that would provide more information to the Public Authorities Control Board before projects are approved.
"It would require, in writing, the entire deal including what the benefits are, what the claw backs are before the (board) gives a rubber stamp," he said.
Cuomo has included ethics reform proposals in his State of the State agenda for the year, including a ban on outside income for state lawmakers and term limits. But his plan wouldn't include anything to address state contracts or how economic development funding is awarded.
One proposal DeFrancisco may consider is closing the so-called LLC loophole, which allows wealthy individuals to establish an unlimited number of limited liability corporations to fund political campaigns.
Todd Howe, the prosecution's star witness in the Percoco trial, detailed how he helped one developer exploit the LLC loophole.
"We should definitely look at it," DeFrancisco said of closing the loophole.