Economic Development Reform Will Protect Taxpayers

In few instances is it so abundantly clear there is a need for change. New York state’s economic development programs, which for years have been shown to be both woefully ineffective and embarrassingly corrupt, are among those cases.
In just a few short weeks, yet another corruption trial related to the Buffalo Billion program is scheduled to begin. The Senate recently passed a series of reforms by an overwhelming 60-2 margin across party lines. But despite all this, the Assembly Majority refuses to act.
The need to fix our broken system is obvious, as billions of dollars in taxpayer money are at stake. Our Conference has pushed hard for a number of legislative solutions to protect taxpayer money and turn the state’s economic development initiatives into the job-creating programs they were meant to be. As we come down the homestretch of this year’s session calendar, it is critical we act to ensure the interests of all New Yorkers are no longer abused by corrupt officials.
Assembly Bill A.5657-A (Oaks) would provide stronger oversight of taxpayer-funded programs, enact penalties for missing reporting deadlines, as well as require a comprehensive review of economic development programs and the tax code, and prohibit political contributions to appointing authorities.
The bill calls for the creation of a Lump Sum Allocation Advisory Committee made up of the comptroller, the attorney general and the director of the Division of the Budget. Together, they would be responsible for reviewing allocation requests and making conflict of interest determinations.
With just a handful of days left in the legislative session, I implore the Assembly Majority to look closely at the proposals on the table. Lawmakers are tasked with crafting policies that protect their constituents, and failing to bring a vote to the floor is extremely negligent. Continued inaction on their part is inexcusable.
Gov. Cuomo’s economic development programs have been marred with scandal. The Buffalo Billion, which was supposed to spark Western New York’s economy and create jobs, appears more like a pay-to-play sham than an honest development program. The governor’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, was just found guilty on felony corruption charges and Alain Kaloyeros’ corruption trial is on the docket.
We are well past time to act. The Assembly Majority can no longer stand idly by as taxpayer money continues to be handed out to the highest bidder. 
If New York is ever going to get out of the economic wasteland it has become, we are going to need to create real, effective programs that prioritize creating jobs and generating economic activity. The status quo has failed the people of this state miserably.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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