Three Subsidy Stories You Might Have Missed This Week


1. Reinvent Albany says Empire State Development Corporation’s “numbers do not add up” in the Penn Station General Project Plan, which may provide massive subsidies to real estate developer Vornado.

The [General Project Plan] simply does not provide sufficient detail or evidence to support ESD’s claim that the revenue from the development is “essential” to funding Penn Station upgrades, or will be a good return on public investment for the potential massive subsidies in the form of tax abatements to Vornado, the developer.

2. Businesses owned by white men had Minority- and Women-Owned Enterprises (MWBEs) serve as a “pass-through” to receive contracts through New York’s notoriously corrupt Buffalo Billion initiative (Buffalo News). NYS requires at least 30% of state contracts to be awarded to MWBEs, but it’s an open secret that contractors find ways to get around the rule.

On paper, companies owned by minorities and women were doing a significant amount of work on the $750 million Tesla plant in South Buffalo, the $250 million biotech hub on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the $200 million drug manufacturing facility in Dunkirk. […] But according to state documents reviewed by The Buffalo News, the work was being done by companies owned by white men.

3. MarketWatch compares the $4-million-per-job Plug Power subsidy deal with other boondoggles across the country.

“They’ve invested millions into the site [that hosts Plug Power] and just have not managed to lure many companies to the area,” [Reinvent Albany’s Tom] Speaker told MarketWatch. “Our view is that these types of subsidies don’t ultimately benefit New York’s economy and that much better things could be done with the money that’s being dedicated.”

If you got this from a friend, sign up here. Subsidy Sheet is written by Tom Speaker, Policy Analyst at Reinvent Albany. Please send questions and tips to tom [at] We look forward to hearing from you!