It’s Christmas in June up in Albany — that time of year when lawmakers hand out taxpayer-funded goodies to friends and political allies.
On Thursday, the Citizens Budget Commission cited six new bills to provide grants, tax breaks or other public subsidies to assorted lucky recipients — in the name of “economic development.”
That brings the total number of such bills now in play to 67. Many won’t become law, but any that do will send yet more taxpayer funds down the drain. How much more? Gee: The bills don’t specify.
Gov. Cuomo, as The Post has reported, pumped a whopping $10 billion into his “Andy Land” economic-development programs through last year, with barely any return on that investment.
Some $15 million went for a “film hub” near Syracuse that sold for $1; $90 million for a lightbulb factory that failed to materialize; $750 million for just one now-struggling Buffalo solar-panel factory that stands little chance of repaying the money, let alone generating the “economic activity” to justify it.
But foolish investing is pretty much the point of the “economic development” game. Consider the one bill on the CBC’s list that has passed both the Assembly and the Senate: It increases the cap on individual grants for Entrepreneurship Assistance Centers from $75,000 to $175,000 — even as it reduces the program’s reporting requirements.
Other bills would provide bonbons of one form or another to manufacturers, small firms, health-care services, etc.
Another batch of gifts comes via the State and Municipal Facilities Program, which borrows money (ostensibly) to help pay for “capital” projects — but is truly a slush fund for local pork.
As the Empire Center’s Ken Girardin reported last week, new SMFP cash “was noticeably missing from the budget bills adopted on April 1, raising the suspicion that a fresh infusion” will be part of the Big Ugly legislation rushed through in the end-of-session crush.
In last year’s SMFP porkfest, $508 million went to 1,207 projects, including $250,000 for an Islip skate park, $250,000 for a cabin in Irondequoit, $300,000 for Hempstead ballfields and $125,000 to resurface a West Haverstraw roller rink.
Even for-profit firms can score: Cuomo steered $3 million via the SMFP to developers of a Staten Island mall, Girardin notes. Funds flowed after the builders gave $85,000 to the gov’s campaign.
None of these handouts serve the broader public, but only the “lucky” winners and the pols who score donations and local bragging rights — at the public’s expense.
Just remember: Every pol is a Santa suit is actually a pickpocket.
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