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Our view: Tighten rules on economic development spending in New York

  • Updated
State Budget-NY

Members of the New York state Senate work in the Senate Chamber at the state Capitol Tuesday.

Proposals to increase oversight of state spending are close to becoming law in New York, and we urge the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office to iron out the details before the completion of the state budget.

At stake is the Database of Deals, which would show the details of companies getting state subsidies for economic development and track the number of jobs they create. A second proposal would restore the authority of the state comptroller's office to review pending contracts to make sure the state is hiring reputable contractors at the best possible prices.

It's important to have checks and balances in place to safeguard state funds, and recent scandals involving bid-rigging of upstate economic development projects underscores that necessity.

But although there is widespread enthusiasm to pass these reforms, the Assembly, Senate and executive versions don't completely match up. The Assembly's version of the Database of Deals, for example, is more comprehensive than the others because it includes a wider range of disbursements and seeks to track jobs created for women and minorities.

The Senate's version of pre-audit authority is stronger because it would apply to a lower threshold to audit spending for SUNY health-care facilities along with the oversight of SUNY and CUNY construction contracts.

Another tweak that needs to be made is for the Senate to join the Assembly and governor's office in budgeting $500,000 for the creation of an online database of economic development projects.

Because this is the first time that all state leaders are supporting these reforms, it would be a real shame if an agreement can't be reached by the end of the fiscal year on April 1.

The state gives out billions of dollars a year in the form of grants and tax breaks, and New York taxpayers should be able to see exactly how their money is being spent.

The Citizen editorial board includes interim publisher Thomas Salvo, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.



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