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This week, the State Legislature approved $525 million in funding for round two of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion. They also threw in more money for Regional Economic Development Councils (with more expected in the final budget).
In a completely tone-def, or simply obstinate move, Albany is currently leaving new oversight and conflict of interest-combating measures out of the budget plan.
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Remember the Buffalo Billion plan, developed by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council in 2011 to promote job growth, hasn’t gotten the job done. Worse, scandal has surrounded the program.
Multiple federal indictments of public officials and businessmen with ties to the Cuomo administration came down last year. But the Governor didn’t seem particularly phased, pledging to continue the programs the next day. Then doubling-down with “Buffalo Billion x 2” during his State of the State world tour.
If that didn’t make lawmakers think twice about spending more on these “economic development” boondoggles, news breaking this week should have.
Syracuse.com has reported that eleven of the 25 current council members represent groups that have received state grants after their projects were endorsed by the council.
This is proof there is cronyism at work among the “Hunger Games” councils that dish out state taxpayer cash locally. There is no conflict-of-interest check, and though lawmakers proposed one last month, it seems to have fallen out.
State legislators still haven’t learned their lesson. After approving an “emergency appropriation” to extend the budget deadline, they passed a bill to continue this pay-to-play culture in Buffalo.
This week, the Governor dismissed even his own ethics reform agenda as a major component of the state budget, as the Gotham Gazette reported.
Will anything stop Albany from throwing money at a scandal-ridden economic development programs? Support Reclaim New York today, and stop accepting this out-of-touch economic development spending.