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Groups Urge Economic Development Reform

Karen DeWitt
Ron Deutsch with the Fiscal Policy Institute advocates for ethics reform in Albany. Behind him are John Kaehny with Reinvent Albany and Jennifer Wilson of the League of Women Voters.

Government reform groups are urging the New York State Assembly to pass two bills that have already been approved in the Senate that would reform New York’s economic development programs. They say it’s needed more than ever on the eve of another federal corruption trial involving Governor Cuomo’s economic development programs.

The former head of high tech development in New York, former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros, goes on trial on corruption charges June 18.

Ron Deutsch, with Fiscal Policy Institute, says the measures would increase transparency by creating a database of deals, listing details of all economic development projects that receive taxpayer money. Another bill would restore the state comptroller’s authority to independently review the projects.

Deutsch, making a football analogy, says the bill to restore the Comptroller’s oversight is like “adding a referee,” and the database of all economic development projects gives taxpayers a “slow motion instant replay.”

“So you are able to see what’s going on,” Deutsch said.

The measures passed nearly unanimously in the Senate, Deutsch and the other groups blame Governor Cuomo for holding it up in the Assembly. A spokesman for the governor denies that, saying the Assembly is their own co equal branch of government. Spokesman Rich Azzopardi says Cuomo supports other reforms for economic development programs, including creation of a special inspector general to investigate any accusations of corruption.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.