Thursday, June 21, 2007

How Industrial Development Agency Reform Was Stopped

Subsidy reform is one of the issues the Working Families Party is working on this legislative session. The WFP wants to make sure that New Yorkers are getting their money's worth from subsidies paid to private corporations with our tax dollars.

The main vehicle for these subsidies are the 115 statewide Industrial Development Agencies. We want standards put in place for the Industrial Development Agencies that would add accountability measures for things like wage standards and hiring provisions. Wage standards, for example, would ensure that our tax dollars aren't supporting low-wage work or shoddy contractors. This TAP post has more background.

We think these accountability standards are common sense. If we're going to give money to private firms, we should expect some accountability on what they do with the money.

Both the Assembly and Senate made Industrial Development Agency Reform proposals this session. Assemblymember Sam Hoyt led the way in the Assembly with a comprehensive IDA Reform bill that we support. The Senate's proposal, by contrast, had little to offer in terms of the accountability measures that we think are necessary to make sure IDAs do their job well. But because of the media attention on bad IDA deals across the state, the Senate agreed to negotiate.

Then, at the last minute, the Senate walked away from the negotiating table. The reason? They were unwilling to discuss wage standards on IDA projects. Assemblymember Hoyt and Labor Committee Chair Susan John insisted on discussing wage standards in exchange for negotiating on other aspects of IDA reform. And the Assembly was willing to negotiate. They offered an alternative proposal, presented by Assemblymember Hoyt last Friday, and directed central staff to work over the weekend to reach a negotiated agreement.

But the Senate still wouldn't come to the table.

Call and tell your state Senator that you hold the Senate majority responsible for not reforming Industrial Development Agencies. There's no other reason for it - the Assembly passed a comprehensive reform bill on Monday, and now it's the Senate's turn to act. You can call the Senate switchoard at 518-455-2800 if you don't know who your state senator is and the switchboard operator can connect you to your Senator.

There are two more people to call, and these two deserve our thanks. Call Assemblymember Sam Hoyt at 518-455-4886 and Assembly Labor Committee Chair Susan John at 518-455-4527 to thank them for their hard work to pass IDA Reform this session.

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