Watchdogs Call For Assembly and Senate One House Budget Resolutions That Boost the Transparency and Accountability of Billions in Business Subsidies
Watchdog groups call on the Assembly and State Senate to include in their one house budget resolutions reforms that will help restore public trust in state government by increasing the accountability and transparency of billions of dollars of state business subsidies. The state’s four billion dollars in annual business subsidies have been featured in corruption trials involving senior aides, major state vendors and campaign contributors to the Governor.
The groups have also called for major systemic reforms including reinstating the comptroller’s authority to review contracts before they are executed, overhauling the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), closing the LLC loophole, and limiting the outside income of elected officials. These fundamental reforms should be included in the budget resolutions of both houses of the legislature as they are providing more funding for economic development:
- Establish a Database of Deals (A.8175-2017 (Schimminger) & S.6613-B-2017 (Croci)). A “Database of Deals” would list all of the taxpayer subsidies received by a business including the type of subsidy, jobs created or retained, and cost per job, among other information.
- Make government-affiliated not-for-profit organizations subject to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and the Open Meetings Law. Several SUNY-affiliated entities like Fuller Road and Fort Schuyler Management Corporations involved in the alleged bid rigging scandals did not follow these transparency laws that prevent corruption;
- Increase Funding for the Authorities Budget Office (ABO) which oversees economic development spending by hundreds of state and local authorities. The legislature in 2009 called for an increase of $2.7 million to its $1.3 million budget when it gave additional powers to the Office. It was allocated just $1.9 million in the Executive Budget.
- Limit campaign contributions by vendors doing business with the state. Part L in the Governor Cuomo’s Good Government and Ethics bill is a starting point for more comprehensive restrictions. A. 9924 (Buchwald) builds on the Governor’s proposal, establishing stronger restrictions.
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