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NY Legislature

Members of the New York Assembly work in the Assembly Chamber at the state Capitol during the last day of the 2017 legislative session.

Associated Press

What might be approved as part of the upcoming state budget is still largely a mystery, of course, as executive and legislative leaders hash out deals behind closed doors. But in the waning days negotiations, we join the good-government folks at Reinvent Albany in calling for increased transparency and accountability in state government.

For one, the state should increase funding for the Authorities Budget Office, which acts in the interest of the public to oversee the operations and finances of public authorities by making them more accountable and transparent.

The state should also ban campaign contributions by vendors competing for state grants and contracts as a means of pushing back against corruption.

And there can be no excuses for not including two other proposals that have already advanced in the Assembly and Senate.

One would establish an online "Database of Deals" listing all of the state's economic development contracts and grants. It would become an easy way for the public to see who has received subsidies from their tax dollars and exactly how many jobs that money has helped create.

The other agreement would also increase transparency in economic development by requiring regional economic development councils to abide by state open meetings and freedom of information laws. Council members would also be held to a code of ethics and adhere to financial disclosure requirements.

Criminal cases tied to state economic development initiatives underscore the importance of additional oversight and transparency regarding how the state is spending the people's money. Because when nobody is looking, there's a good chance it's being stolen.

The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.

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