Assemblymember Wallace and Senator Comrie Call for Database of Deals to Increase Transparency

Legislation would create database of all state economic development benefits to increase transparency, oversight of public funds

Albany, NY Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D-Lancaster) and Senator Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) today called for the Legislature and Governor Hochul to include their “database of deals” legislation (A8325A/S5711A) in the final state budget. The legislation would require Empire State Development to maintain a searchable state database of all economic development subsidies and benefits. Both the Assembly and Senate budget proposals included this legislation, and the legislators are urging for it to be in final budget.

New York State spends billions of state taxpayer dollars each year to attract businesses and create jobs. However, it is nearly impossible to track that money and thus it is difficult to determine how much public money different private entities are receiving.This lack of transparency also makes it impossible to assess whether the public investment of taxpayer dollars is having the economic development impact intended.

The legislation would mandate that Empire State Development develop a searchable database for any project receiving state subsidies, which would identify the total economic development benefit for a particular project, the time period over which the benefits will be received, and the job creation targets.

“The public deserves to know that their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely,” said Assemblymember Wallace. “By organizing these subsidies in a single, searchable database, we will bring more transparency and accountability to state economic development programs and improve oversight as to how public funds are spent. I thank Speaker Carl Heastie and Economic Development Chair Harry Bronson for including this legislation in our Assembly budget, I thank Senator Comrie for advancing this legislation in the state Senate, and I urge my colleagues to support its inclusion in the final budget.”

 “Better value for taxpayer dollars results from policy experts, the media, and the public all having access to high quality information,” said Senator Comrie. “Adopting a comprehensive database of deals requirement, would deliver the up-to-date information we need to ensure we get the best out of our economic development investments. I appreciate the partnership of Assemblymember Wallace in championing this legislation and I am grateful that Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and my Senate colleagues saw the merit of this policy. We must continue to advocate to bring this over the finish line.”

"We thank the Senate and Assembly for including a comprehensive Database of Deals in their one-house budget bills,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany. “We appreciate Senator Comrie and Assemblymember Wallace for sponsoring this common-sense transparency measure, which is supported by groups across the political and ideological spectrum who all agree New Yorkers should know exactly who is getting the $5 billion in state business subsidies we are all paying for. Importantly, this legislation includes a uniform definition of "job," which will allow an apples-to-apples comparison of the state subsidy per job for hundreds of different projects funded by dozens of state programs. Now, all eyes are on Governor Hochul to finally pass the Database of Deals into law."

Assemblymember Wallace has long championed efforts to ensure economic development funds are administered responsibly and openly. She has introduced legislation (A828) to strengthen accountability and transparency requirements for industrial development agencies (IDAs) and to authorize IDAs and Local Development Corporations to recapture financial assistance granted to a project, in the event the project violates state or federal law and materially harms the community.

Senator Comrie's experience advocating for transparency, accountability, and rigorous oversight is informed by his service as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions. He has introduced legislation to institute or upgrade notice requirements for lawmakers of major transportation, utility, and other projects undertaken in their districts (S4013A). He has also introduced legislation to increase notice to the public (S2940), mandating the Urban Development Authority give the public more time to evaluate proposed economic development projects.

This legislation is not the first time that Assemblymember Wallace and Senator Comrie worked together to improve accountability over the use of taxpayer funds. In 2019, Assemblymember Wallace and Senator Comrie passed legislation (A2480/S4292), which was signed into law later that year, prohibiting public authorities from awarding “golden parachute” severance packages to at-will appointees.