Rush to budget? Lawmakers outraged over 'error' in jobs legislation
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin isn't buying it.
The Republican assemblyman says there's no way someone simply forgot to include a key piece of legislation to Governor Cuomo’s chief job-creation program Start-Up New York in this year’s budget, that was passed Sunday. It wasn’t noticed until it was too late.
“In my opinion it was done purposefully,” McLaughlin said.
Start-Up New York has been criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for creating just 1,135 jobs across the state in four years. The legislation, now omitted from the law, was the piece that required businesses in the program to report how many jobs were created in the past year.
A representative from the State Division of Budget said:
"We can confirm there was a line in the budget that was removed in error. We’re going to continue to collect the same information from companies participating in the program. There will be an even better report next year including more information."
"The budget creates a new requirement for an annual comprehensive economic development report," said Morris Peters a spokesperson for NYS Division of the Budget.
“I think I’m a little skeptical as well," Assemblywoman Pat Fahy D-Albany said.
Fahy says the Assembly moved not to fund Start-Up New York in this year's budget because of low performance, but after negotiations she says the program got some funding from the Assembly anyway. She says she'll work to ensure the reporting element is added back into the law.
“We could certainly hold hearings on it and ask for informal reporting requirements as well,” Fahy said.
Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group, a government watchdog in Albany, says this situation shows what can happen when lawmakers rush to get a budget complete.
“People should be outraged,” Haven said.
The budget was more than 1,500 pages this year. Haven says lawmakers didn't get the three days they're supposed to have to look everything over. The review period was waved for time.
Haven says the public and lawmakers just didn't have enough time to catch mistakes like this.
“God knows what else they’re going to find, I won’t be surprised if other things come to light,” Haven said.
Last year, the Start-Up New York report was issued three months after the deadline mandated by law. The report was due on April 1st, but was released late Friday of July 4th weekend. State officials blamed the late release, in part, on slow reporting by some of the companies involved in the program. This year it was issued on time.
So far, $50 million has been spent pushing the program.