SYRACUSE, N.Y. – State leaders are planning to borrow $5 million to help CBS pay for renovations at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, the home for the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” according to state records.
That means state taxpayers are on the hook for $5 million, plus interest.
The money is coming from the three-year-old State and Municipal Facility Program. State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have the ability to borrow as much as $1.1 billion for projects to help local governments and public agencies, like libraries and fire departments.
But the new fund, a part of the state’s budget, also allows for spending on economic development projects. That means the money can flow from public coffers toward private projects.
So far, the state has approved borrowing $79.8 million toward 54 projects, according to state records. Another $107 million — including the $5 million for the “Late Show” — is in the pipeline for another 534 projects.
The renovation at the Hotel Syracuse, for example, is in line for $1.7 million from the fund, which is called SAM for short, according to state records. It’s also the source of $10 million going to the city of Syracuse to address its water system breaks.
The Empire Center, a conservative budget watchdog in Albany, has criticized state leaders for creating the new fund, saying it’s yet another source of political pork. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said during a trip to Syracuse last month that the spending was not pork.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and CBS announced the $5 million for the “Late Show” last year. The money is part of the state’s effort at keeping the television show’s 200 jobs in New York City, Cuomo said at the time.
The ‘Late Show’ was not expected to leave New York City, the Los Angeles Times reported.
CBS is also in line for $11 million in tax breaks during the next five years for keeping the show in New York City, according to Cuomo’s office.
Colbert’s version of the “Late Show” will begin airing Sept. 8.