Mark Dunlea, the Green Party candidate for state comptroller, today called upon Assembly Speaker Heastie to bring to a vote several bills that would restore Comptroller oversight of state contracts and economic development programs that have been part of the recent corruption scandals involving the Governor’s office.
“The Comptroller is elected to be an independent fiscal watchdog to protect the taxpayers of New York from fraud and waste. It was wrong for the Governor and state lawmakers to have stripped away the Comptroller’s oversight over SUNY and CUNY contracts. DiNapoli should have fought harder against this. And with Cuomo raking in massive campaign contributions from special interests profiting from state contracts, it is critical to increase oversight and accountability over Cuomo’s multi-billion dollar corporate welfare programs,” stated Dunlea.
Cuomo and the Legislature approved a measure in 2011 that prevented DiNapoli from reviewing contracts at SUNY and CUNY ahead of time. Shortly afterwards, Cuomo announced a billion-dollar initiative to bring a solar power manufacturing facility to Buffalo. The head of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute is the key defendant in the corruption trial about to start over the alleged rigging of the Buffalo Billion contract.
“Cuomo opposes these common sense accountability reforms because they would disrupt his pay-to-play campaign financing machine, which is under scrutiny in trials and investigations related to contracts and regulatory favors awarded to campaign contributors like Competitive Power Ventures, COR Development, LP Ciminelli, and Crystal Run Healtcare,” said Howie Hawkins, the Green candidate for governor.
As Executive Director of the Hunger Action Network, Dunlea organized for nearly two decades to increase state oversight of the economic development program to ensure that the promised jobs were actually delivered – and to recoup the taxpayer investment if they were not. The Corporate and Financial Accountability Act, which Dunlea helped draft, failed to pass. Dunlea has also long called for economic development to focus more on locally-determined public infrastructure needs rather than providing large payments to politically-connected private firms.
“Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich got rid of the old ADC program to help poor children, but failed to reform the much bigger Aid to Dependent Corporations program to ensure accountability and job creation. A critical solution to poverty is to create more jobs, and we should not waste our tax dollars on handouts to companies that fail to deliver,” noted Dunlea.
The legislation includes the Procurement Integrity Act to restore the state comptroller’s power to review contracts before they are officially awarded, and the “database of deals” bill to create a public catalogue of economic development awards and their results. Support for the bills had been so strong in the Assembly that they were included in their one house budget bill in March.
Following the Governor’s decision to push the IDC to rejoin the mainstream Democrats in the Senate, the Senate Republican leadership decided to pass the bills to “punish” the Governor. Now that the bills could become law, Assembly Speaker Heastie is blocking action to protect the Governor.