State Senate Republicans want to restore Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s “pre-approval oversight” power over economic-development contracts. File it under “better late than never.”
The move comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s longtime top aide, Joe Percoco, was found guilty of corrupt dealings over just such contracts. Still to come is the federal “Buffalo Billion” corruption trial for former SUNY Polytechnic head Alain Kaloyeros, several Cuomo donors and other close associates.
And, of course, after Cuomo broke off his longtime alliance with Republicans — who during the gov’s first term went along with the move to curb DiNapoli’s authority to review and block contracts and spending by SUNY and other nonprofits.
If the Senate majority wants to show it means to clean up, it should also demand tighter ethics rules on Cuomo’s use of the Dormitory Authority’s State and Municipal Facilities program.
As The Post’s Aaron Short reported last year, while Cuomo imposed new ethics requirements on legislators’ requests for SAM funding, the rules don’t apply to the gov’s own $1.54 billion “pork” fund.
SAM cash comes from off-budget borrowing by the Dormitory Authority — mostly for projects having nothing to do with dormitories that will supposedly create jobs.
DiNapoli complains that the latest state budget allows for $475 million in new SAM spending and a $385 million boost in borrowing authority — with no explanation of the need, since much of last year’s $1.5 billion in SAM funds is still unspent.
The Empire Center’s Ken Girardin notes that this borrowing forces “future taxpayers to pick up the tab for politicians to win political points today.”
Also in the news: Cuomo has pulled in more campaign cash under the so-called “LLC loophole” — a donation category dominated by the real-estate interests most likely to benefit from “economic development” pork — than the entire Legislature.
Whatever made the Senate GOP get religion on this front, the time is beyond ripe.
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