Reinvent Albany Praises Enactment of Four New Laws Boosting Spending Transparency

November 20, 2017

Reinvent Albany today praised four laws which go into effect today making billions of dollars in City spending more transparent to the public.  The Council passed the laws on October 31st.  The Mayor did not sign the bills but allowed 30 days to lapse since Council passage, making the bills law under the City Charter.  Reinvent Albany testified in favor of the legislation at a mayoral hearing on November 20th and previously at Council hearings held this past June and in December 2016.

“These new City laws will make it much easier to understand both the big picture of how the City is spending money and the specifics of hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidy deals the City makes with businesses. It will be much easier to see if the taxpayer is getting a good deal. These new laws are a blueprint for what the state should do,” Said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany.

Int. No. 1176-A (Kallos) requires the Office of Management and Budget to put the City budget online in an open data format. This will make it much easier to analyze mountains of budget numbers. Reinvent Albany was the lead advocate in advancing Local Law 11 of 2012 which created the Open Data Portal in New York City, and was instrumental in the creation of the State’s Open Data portal created via Executive Order 95.

Int. 1337-A (Rosenthal), requires the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to provide extensive information about taxpayer subsidy deals including:

  • The project’s name, location and time period during which it is receiving financial assistance;

  • projected and actual jobs created;

  • the different types of jobs including full-time or part-time, permanent or temporary, and contractual;

  • the type of financial incentives including grants, loans, tax expenditures, tax abatements, energy benefits, and waived fees;

  • Past, present year, and present value of project benefits;

  • a disaggregation of jobs within each industry at the job site and whether employees are earning a living wage or receiving health benefits;

  • A statement of compliance related to project targets and goals and any clawbacks, reductions or cancellations in benefits.

Reinvent Albany has pursued similar legislation in NYS known as a Database of Deals which would provide all economic benefits received for individual projects. Councilmember Rosenthal’s bill serves as a model for Albany.

Int. No. 1316-A (Garodnick) is a companion bill to the Rosenthal bill and Reinvent Albany testified in support of it.  It requires a fiscal impact statement be provided to the Council Speaker 30 days before benefits commence for an economic development project.  The fiscal impact statement provides the impact on the city’s revenues and expenditures for the fiscal year in which the benefit begins, the next year, and the first fiscal year in which the impact of the project is fully realized along with its job creation estimates.

Int. 1322-A (Johnson) requires the City’s economic development agencies to report on their websites when contractors fail to meet their material obligations to the city, and any actions taken by the economic development agency to recoup taxpayer funds when a default has occurred.  Reinvent Albany testified in favor of this bill in December 2016.

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