Recent disclosures indicate that Gov. Kathy Hochul is expending billions in our tax dollars to pave the road to a gubernatorial victory in November.
In a last minute “message of necessity” before the state Legislature closed down for the summer, according to The New York Times, Hochul pushed through legislation approving “billions of dollars in corporate subsidiaries to lure semiconductor plants to New York.”
The $10 billion was authorized without a debate or a public hearing.
One Democrat state senator, James Skoufis, said, “Sunlight did not exist in the room where this program was cooked up.”
Another Democrat senator, Liz Krueger, who voted against the chip proposal, complained that it is “the biggest economic development tax give away the state has ever seen—maybe any state has ever seen.”
She continued, “We did try to negotiate some structure and transparency into the language and some limits. I lost on that.”
This is not the first financial boondoggle the governor persuaded the Legislature to approve in the darkness of night.
Let’s not forget the $600 million of state funds she secured to build in her hometown of Buffalo, a new Bills football stadium.
On July 14, the New York Post reported that “a company headed by a big donor to Gov. Hochul is in line for up to $1.2 billion in tax breaks under an opaque plan to overhaul Penn Station.”
A “Reinvent Albany” report prepared by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School, reveals that this tax break would be given despite the fact that “the state has not made public the necessary information to determine if the [financing plan] can be successful, including projections of costs and revenues.”
The Penn Station project, which is expected to cost between $7.5 billion and $10 billion could have a shortfall of $3 billion. “In that case,” The Times reports, “New York taxpayers might have to fill the gap….”
Sounds like a great deal for Hochul’s campaign contributors but not for taxpayers.
There’s still more——
To get her dubious spending programs through the Legislature, Hochul greased the way by handing out more than $68 million in pork barrel projects between November 2021 and March 2022 to finance 276 projects.
Those dollars were expended from proceeds of bonded debt issued by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. As an independent agency, DASNY is able to issue debt and award grants without voter approval.
Thanks to a FOIL request by the Empire Center for Public Policy, the grants are listed on its web site.
Here’s a few of the awards handpicked by the governor and her allies in the state Legislature:
• $1 million for renovations to the Cazenovia pool in the City of Buffalo;
• $500,000 for improvements to the year-round farmer’s market in the Town of Brighton in the Finger Lakes region;
• $275,000 for the construction of a splash pad at Veterans’ Memorial Park in the Town of Orangetown in the Mid-Hudson region;
• $100,000 for the purchase of an electrofishing boat for Cazenovia College in Central New York;
• $50,000 for the installation of structural bike racks in the City of Newburgh in the Mid-Hudson region;
• $50,000 for the construction of a dog park in the Town of Parma in the Finger Lakes region.
Pork grants in Nassau include:
• $150,000 for renovations to the Library’s Children’s Room in the Village of Garden City;
• $100,000 for Creation of a Free Play learning area in Nassau County;
• $500,000 for improvements to the Ice Arena bathrooms and locker rooms in the City of Long Beach;
• $325,000 for park improvements to Williston Park in the Village of Mineola.
And there’s more to come.
The state budget department expects another $260 million in pork barrel grants to be distributed in the present fiscal year.
My guess is most of the money will be distributed between now and Election Day to entice voters to re-elect Democrats.
It is my hope that voters will reject attempts to buy them off and will punish incumbent pols at the ballot box for squandering their hard-earned tax dollars.