A Special Session Must Strengthen Independent Oversight Over State Business Subsidies


December 5, 2016

Governor Cuomo
Executive Chamber
Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Senator Flanagan
Majority Leader
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247

Assemblymember Heastie Speaker
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248

Senator Klein
Senate Co-Leader
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247

Re: ​Please strengthen independent oversight of economic development contracts and include Clean Contracting reforms as part of any special session

Dear Messrs. Cuomo, Flanagan, Heastie, and Klein:

We write today to ask that any special session of the legislature include fundamental changes to how the state awards and oversees over a billion dollars a year in economic development contracts. The public has not forgotten that in September key state officials were arrested for rigging over $780 million in economic development contracts.

Specifically, we urge you to strengthen independent oversight of state spending, which under the state constitution is the job of the Comptroller.

We suggest the following fundamental reforms to protect the public’s money and restore public trust in government.

Five Clean Contracting Reforms Proposed by Watchdog Groups:

  1. Require competitive and transparent contracting for the award of state funds by all state agencies, authorities, and affiliates. Use existing agency procurement guidelines as a uniform minimum standard.
  2. Transfer responsibility for awarding all economic development awards to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), and end awards by state non-profits and SUNY.
  3. Empower the comptroller to review and approve all state contracts over $250k.
  4. Prohibit state authorities, state corporations, and state non-profits from doing business with their board members.
  5. Create a ‘Database of Deals’ that allows the public to see the total value of all forms of subsidies awarded to a business – as six states have done.

We also urge you to reduce the potential for conflicts of interest by exploring options to limit campaign contributions from anyone who has or is seeking a state contract. Nineteen states and NYC have “pay to play” laws, New York State does not.

Thank you,

Dick Dadey, Executive Director
Citizens Union
299 Broadway
New York, NY 10007

Ron Deutsch, Executive Director
Fiscal Policy Institute
1 Lear Jet Lane
Latham, NY 12110

Blair Horner, Executive Director
107 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12210

John Kaehny, Executive Director
Reinvent Albany
148 Lafayette Street, 12t​h​ Floor
New York, NY 10013

David Friedfel, Director of State Studies
Citizens Budget Commission
2 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY 10001

Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters
NYS 62 Grand Street
Albany, NY 12207


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