FINCH UNVEILS LEGISLATION TO END PAY TO PLAY, BID-RIGGING Joins Leader Kolb and Assemblyman Oaks to push for economic development transparency
RELEASED: June 6, 2016
As federal and state investigations into the Cuomo Administration’s controversial economic development programs continue to expand and intensify, Assemblyman Gary D. Finch (R,C,I-Springport) joined Assembly Republican Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) and Assemblyman Robert C. Oaks (R,C-Macedon) at a press conference this morning to detail their plan to reform the state’s economic development procedures by increasing transparency and oversight.
“Our tax dollars should not double as thank you gifts for politically-connected developers and donors,” said Finch. “Federal and state investigators are parsing a tangled web of lobbyists and developers whose cash and connections gave them inside access to incredibly lucrative contracts. We don’t believe that is the right way to do business, and neither do the taxpayers we’re here to protect.”
The legislation would empower the comptroller, attorney general and director of the Division of the Budget to oversee all projects funded by lump-sum budget allocations. This three-member panel would be required to screen all projects for any ethical issues or conflicts of interest.
The bill would also levy penalties against executive agencies that miss reporting deadlines. Currently, the administration’s report on the efficacy of the START-UP New York program is 65 days late. The heads of these agencies, as well as the governor, would see their salaries withheld until they submitted the required report.
“Taxpayers aren’t just allowed to ignore deadlines. The government asks its citizens to pay taxes by a certain date. The government requires people to renew important licenses by a certain date. We don’t want the administration to send the message to taxpayers that the government is somehow above its own laws and regulations,” says Finch.
Other provisions in the bill include banning political appointees, including members of the Regional Economic Development Councils, from making political donations.
The bill would also commission a study to analyze how much money the state spends on tax credits and other incentives.
Finch suspects the state would enjoy considerably more economic growth if the administration focused on tax cuts and regulatory reform instead of economic development gimmicks. “States with good business climates don’t run $200 million ad campaigns proclaiming that they’re open for businesses because they would rather cut taxes by $200 million,” said Finch.