Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WF-Tompkins/Cortland) has introduced legislation in the Assembly requiring companies receiving state financial incentives to provide records of job creation and retention (A.8587).
"Taxpayers have a right to know whether their money is being spent wisely," Lifton said. "New Yorkers need jobs, and they deserve to see results from taxpayer funded job-creation programs."
Lifton noted last year’s audit by the New York State Comptroller found a lack of accountability and transparency in the Empire Zones program, which gives incentives to businesses for economic development in targeted areas around the state. Under Lifton’s bill, businesses receiving financial incentives will be required to file annual accountability reports with the Urban Development Corporation and the Department of Economic Development. This information would then be compiled by both agencies and submitted to the Legislature and available for public review.
"Empire Zones can be an effective tool for long-term economic growth, but it will only work with sound administration and accountability," Lifton said. "My bill will help ensure that we’re getting the full benefit the program promises."
Lifton noted she helped pass the Assembly’s government reform package, which includes a bill she sponsored providing greater oversight of New York’s public authorities (A.5626, passed Assembly 3/9/05). The measure creates a public authorities inspector general and an independent budget office, and puts greater controls on spending, lobbying and accounting.
Lifton also helped pass a state budget that expands and reforms the state’s Empire Zones program and allows each region of the state to use its strengths to compete in the global economy. The plan authorizes 12 new Empire Zones which now puts Tompkins County in excellent position to establish a zone. It also addresses some major abuses in the administration of the program, closing loopholes to make the program more effective and accountable.
"As a member of the Assembly, I have fought for new ways to create jobs and improve local economies," Lifton said. "We also must make sure our state agencies are functioning properly, and that businesses that receive taxpayer-financed incentives are delivering the good-paying jobs they promised. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this important legislation."