Hawley: IDA Reform Bill Would Hurt Western New York Economy

June 15, 2007

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) today criticized Assembly bill A.8703 for its potentially devastating effects on economic development for Western New York.

The legislation aims to place greater accountability and improve efficiency for the 116 industrial development agencies throughout the state.

Hawley sees it another way. “The legislation would add significant new costs to IDA economic development projects and would eliminate the financial incentives they were created to provide,” he said.

“The IDAs of the 139th Assembly District are some of the best in New York. This legislation is an overreaction to a couple bad apples in other parts of the state,” Hawley added.

Under the proposal, IDAs would be required to pay all prevailing wages on any project. Also, payment to employees of IDA projects must meet the median wage for all occupations and it requires environmental and energy standards be met, which are otherwise not required.

The additional costs, Hawley says, would diminish the ability of upstate counties to attract new private investment and assist in the creation of jobs.

The legislation also requires the appointment of representatives of labor, school boards, and environmental organizations to IDA boards and establishes four-year terms for board members. The option of appointing a business representative would be repealed.

A provision in the bill to restrict funding by IDAs to projects in an area not served by public sewer and water infrastructure has Hawley particularly frustrated.

“For rural communities, this bill so severely limits opportunities for economic development that it might as well include a provision that says rural regions are completely cut off from the advantages and benefits IDAs provide.”

The New York State Association of Counties, New York State Economic Development Council, and the Healthcare Association of New York State all oppose the bill.