BUFFALO, NY –There is an increased call for a better accounting of the billions of taxpayer dollars being spent by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration on economic development programs. The effectiveness of the programs is also under question.
This comes after a heated exchange at the state capitol on Monday between a key member of the Cuomo administration and a Western New York state Assemblyman.
Things got testy between New York State Assemblyman Ray Walter (R-146th District) and Empire State Development Corporation President Howard Zemsky during a state legislative hearing, when Walter grilled Zemsky regarding claims that the state’s programs have created a dramatic turnaround in the Western new York economy.
“I appreciate the renaissance we've been talking about in Buffalo but show me the data And I'm not convinced you can do that,” Walter told Zemsky.
“Do you even have any idea about what’s going on,” snapped Zemsky. “My job has been to be involved with the revitalization of Buffalo in a way that you, Assemblyman, could have never imagined sitting in that seat for however long you've been in it.”
But Walter’s continued insistence that just because Cuomo makes lofty claims about the success of his programs doesn't mean they are true, seemed to aggravate Zemsky further.
"You can, as the governor does, can come in here and speak in platitudes but you can’t actually draw the connection,” Walter began during one exchange in which the two bickered and talked over each other, but in which Zemsky can be heard responding “…yup, yup, yup, blah blah…”
"I think Howard Zemsky’s intentions are very good but I think Assemblyman Walter was doing his job and I commend him for doing that," said New York State Senator Chris Jacobs (R-60th District).
Jacobs says he'll propose legislation requiring taxpayer funded programs to undergo independent analysis every three years.
"I think the problem is we don’t have any independent analysis of these, so we don’t know their effectiveness, and the outcome is that you get into something like you have yesterday when you get into a bit of a shouting match on both sides."
New York State Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-140th District) has also proposed legislation calling for more accounting of the jobs actually created Cuomo’s economic development programs, of which the State Comptroller has also been critical for a lack of accountability and transparency.