Bringing More Accountability to Local Empire Zones Program

March 31, 2005
For the first time in 20 years, the Assembly and Senate are on its way to an on-time budget. Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Central Islip) has been working with both sides of the aisle to create a budget that will help all the families of Suffolk County.

Ramos announced today the passage of a bipartisan budget bill which will reform the state’s Empire Zone program and help bring more oversight and accountability to local Empire Zones, like the one in Islip, New York.

It also reforms the Empire Zones by further encouraging companies to locate and expand in distressed communities, as well as offer higher pay and benefits.

"This legislation is long overdue given the NYS Comptrollers report released last year," Ramos said. "That report showed that the Islip Empire Zone was not creating the jobs they promised, but they were still getting tax breaks. This legislation works to fix that problem."

The bill addresses major abuses and loopholes and makes the program more effective and accountable. The agreement increases accountability in the Empire Zones program by:
  • creating an independent report on the performance and usefulness of the Empire Zones program
  • requiring the state Office of Taxation and Finance to produce a performance report, including all job creation information and the actual cost of tax benefits claimed by zone businesses, and
  • establishing an Empire Zones Control Board to designate future zones and approve all boundary changes;

"I urge the governor to join us in support of this measure, and provide Suffolk County with a budget that helps all our working families," said Ramos.