Assembly GOP demands oversight of “lump sum” spending

The Assembly’s Republican minority is pushing a one-house bill in the closing days of this year’s session to impose stricter oversight of how the state doles out economic development money and budgetary “lump sums.”

Among other provisions, the bill would require the state comptroller, budget director and attorney general to review every pending grant to make sure the recipient has no conflict of interest. It also would mandate that lawmakers see and approve lists of grants that would be distributed through undefined lump sums like the State and Municipal Facilities Program, a pork-barrel funding pot that majority-party lawmakers tap to give out money in their districts.

Republicans staged a press conference with the advocacy group Reclaim New York on Wednesday to promote the bill, which Assembly Democrats put on hold in committee in April. They timed it to coincide with the start on Monday of the federal corruption trial for former SUNY Polytechnic Institute CEO Alain Kaloyeros, who’s accused of rigging development bids for some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign donors.

“The corruption in our economic development programs and utter failure by the Cuomo administration to address it is eating away at the fabric of our state’s government,” Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, R-Deerpark, said in a statement afterward.

“I am proud to say there are legislators on both sides of the aisle who support measures to make economic development more transparent,” said Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford, whose district includes seven towns in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties. “This is not a partisan issue. This is everyone’s issue.”

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