Will the New York Assembly pass the economic development reform?

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Since the Buffalo Billion scandal in 2016, government watchdog groups have tried to push through a selection of bills that would restore oversight and create more transparency around state economic development agreements.

“There are a number of different bills that would go a long way toward bringing some sense to a rather chaotic system of economic development,” said Ron Deutsch, director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness. capital tonight. “Over the past decade, I would say we’ve been subject to what I like to call ‘economic development,’ where Governor Cuomo was really trying to take the reins of economic development programs and get things done in directions it benefited him and the people he wanted to benefit from.

Three bills in particular top the watchdog “to do” list, including:

  • ending state opportunity zone tax breaks
  • ending the inclusion of non-disclosure provisions in state or local economic development contracts
  • restore the supervisory powers of the State Comptroller

“A number (of bills) were recently passed by the Senate last week. So we’re really trying to see if the Assembly will move these bills in the few remaining days of the session,” Deutsch said.

There are only a handful of days left in the legislative session.

“Speed ​​is of the utmost importance here to get them through,” Deutsch said.

Both houses passed a bill that Deutsch called “low hanging fruit.” Empire State Development Transparency Bill A9622/S8419A will require Empire State Development to publicly post the list of community advisory meetings, agendas, and minutes on its website.

Still pending Assembly passage is a bill that would end the State Opportunity Zone tax breaks (A8081A/S6800A). While the 2021 budget was supposed to end the tax relief, there is a loophole that Deutsch says could cost taxpayers $420 million a year starting in 2029.

“It’s a way for high net worth individuals to defer capital gains tax on their investment income,” Deutsch explained.

Another bill that the state Senate passed, but not the Assembly, would restore the comptroller’s review power over state contracts (A7925A/S6809A).

“It would restore the comptroller’s century-old power to verify and pre-verify contracts entered into by the state,” Deutsch said.

He continued.

“If the Comptroller had had that power at the time of the Buffalo bid-rigging scandal, he could have detected it early and prevented the waste of over a billion dollars.”

The legislative session is due to end on June 2.

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