- DiNapoli: Empire State Corp. lacks transparency (from Gannett, in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
- NY economic development agency fails to show impact, state comptroller says (via the AP and Syracuse.com)
- Why does 25% of this agency's staff make over $100K? (from Crain's New York Business)
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today released a profile of the Empire State Development Corp. (ESDC) that found there is minimal financial information for many of its 168 subsidiaries and limited public reporting on results of the economic development initiatives around the state.Note that the report does not address Atlantic Yards, so there's no assessment of jobs created or the value of the state subsidies. Or the limited amount of transparency, as with the Atlantic Yards CDC. The debt issued to build the Barclays Center was authorized by an ESDC alter ego, the Job Development Authority, but does not put the state on the hook.
“New York state spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to spur economic development and job creation through ESDC programs,”DiNapoli said. “New Yorkers deserve more thorough accounting about whether these programs are achieving desired results.”
...For fiscal year (FY) 2013, ESDC reported that its programs helped create 2,424 jobs, a figure representing approximately 1.8 percent of net private-sector job creation in the state during the year. But the authority makes little public assessment of whether its programs work effectively together or create well-paying jobs. The report suggests developing more detailed and consistent public reporting for each program.
In addition to economic development, ESDC serves as a financing vehicle for the state. Its outstanding debt totaled more than $10.7 billion for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2014, an increase of 20 percent over FY 2013. Most of the agency’s debt total is considered “backdoor borrowing,”which has been done on behalf of the state without voter approval. As noted in DiNapoli’s report, there is an increasing reliance by the state on ESDC to issue debt to fund a broader scope of projects including highways, correctional and youth facilities, and to refund debt of other authorities.
The Cuomo response
Gov. Andrew Cuomo knocked DiNapoli, saying the state's economy is much improved in recent years.And ESD is not necessarily admitting problems:
"I disagree with the comptroller fundamentally and on his concept of economic development," Cuomo told reporters on Long Island. "This state lost its effectiveness and primacy in attracting businesses over the past decades, and we've come a long way in the past four years in actually reversing that and bringing jobs back to New York."
Jason Conwall, a spokesman for Empire State Development, said the agency regularly releases reports on the programs it administers, such as the state's 10 regional councils and tax-credit programs.
"Many of these are the direct result of increased transparency requirements enacted during the course of this administration," Conwall said. "We'll review the comptroller office's recommendations and will be more than happy to direct them to the section of our web site where these reports are located.