Subsidy Sheet: NY (still) needs Senators to get answers about billions of public funds going to Penn Station project


1. Reinvent Albany urged NYS Senators to help taxpayers get answers about the billions in public dollars being steered to Governor Hochul’s Penn Station redevelopment plan. Our letter suggested many basic questions about revenue projections, timeframe, tax breaks, and more that the Senators can ask Empire State Development, the entity overseeing the project.

In an editorial on the plan, Newsday also says that state and city officials “have questions to answer.”

The City writes about a lawsuit filed against Empire State Development for improperly withholding records related to the deal.

State Senator George Borello called on the Governor to withdraw the Penn Station plan until there is more transparency (Observer). 

Common Edge compares Vornado CEO Steven Roth, who is pushing for the plan, to Robert Moses.

2. California paid 45% less than New York for COVID tests sold by Digital Gadgets, owned by a major Hochul donor (Times Union). The CEO’s family donated $300,000 to the Governor’s re-election campaign just weeks before the state bought $637 million in Digital Gadgets tests.

The Times Union Editorial Board says it’s hard to believe the purchase isn’t pay to play – and even if it’s not, the waste is still “obscene.”

From the editorial:

As we’ve said before while arguing for campaign finance reform, we believe political contributions influence public policy decisions. If they didn’t, why would companies continue to be so generous?

3. A developer in Niagara County will be getting $7.2 million in tax breaks from the state for a luxury apartment project, and NYS government is likely to provide millions more (Investigative Post).

Without the PILOT deal, VisoneCo would have paid $9.6 million in city, county and school taxes over 15 years. With the PILOT deal, VisoneCo will pay $3.4 million in property taxes.

4. NYS is providing $200 million in grant funding for young small businesses trying to gain a foothold in the “post-pandemic economy,” building on an earlier $639 million program (State of Politics).

Fun fact: NYC has more Opportunity Zones than any city in the USA.

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

No Subsidy Sheet next week, as Tom will be on vacation. See you on September 30th!