State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli this week released a scathing report that shows an alarmingly ineffective use of millions in taxpayer dollars. According to the comptroller, New York’s $211.5 million advertising contract to support the promotion of START-UP NY, Gov. Cuomo’s signature economic-development initiative, has produced “no tangible results.” For a program billed as a cost-free way to improve New York’s tax climate, taxpayers are instead footing the bill for a program that has been a massive flop.
KEY POINTS SHOW NO RESULTS
Comptroller DiNapoli’s report showed a number of gaping holes in the governor’s program. Some key points in the audit show that the Empire State Development Corporation, tasked with implementing the program, has simply dropped the ball. According to the audit:
- The ESDC focused almost entirely on the services provided, not the results achieved.
- The ESDC has not quantified the expected results from its advertising campaign, and therefore has no mechanism in place to compare actual performance to expectations.
- The ESDC can’t determine if the $211.5 million ad campaign has been cost-effective or if it has achieved the goals of the START-UP program.
A program that is nearly impossible to evaluate would never fly at private businesses and corporations, yet New York State taxpayers are stuck with an economic plan that would get most CEOs canned.
“NO COST” PROMISES HAVE BEEN BROKEN
Even before television ads started clogging the airwaves, the Cuomo Administration went to great lengths to promote START-UP NY. He and his cabinet traveled the state to trumpet this as an economic-development miracle. The governor himself sat down with editorial boards from far and wide to promote START-UP NY as a can’t-miss job creator that would cost taxpayers absolutely nothing.
After meeting with The Buffalo News in May of 2013, the newspaper reported that the governor “insisted that the program would not have a revenue impact on the state.” During the same promotional campaign, the governor’s budget director at the time, Robert Megna, told reporters, “I think there is some misinterpretation out there about what this program will cost the state budget. The answer is no cost.”
The reality of the situation is this program has now become an expense to taxpayers with nearly no real benefit to New Yorkers. If we continue to see next-to-no job creation from a program touted as an economic fix-all, we must shut down START-UP. The true economic fix will come when we make broad tax cuts and eliminate onerous mandates hampering businesses.
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