Friday, April 28, 2017

Lawmakers advance comptroller’s, not Cuomo’s, bill for reform

A bill that could address corruption in Albany is progressing in the state Legislature, but it might not be the measure that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to become law.

Several former Cuomo associates, including a former top aide, face federal corruption trials on charges of bribery and bid-rigging in connection with the contracts for some of the governor’s signature economic development projects, including the Buffalo Billion.

A bill proposed by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli would give the comptroller the power to oversee economic development contracts in the future and potentially flag any signs of illegal activities.

The comptroller had the authority to review the contracts until 2011, when that power was taken away in an agreement by Cuomo and the Legislature.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), who is sponsoring the bill in that house, said he wants to correct what many now acknowledge was an error.

“This is the way things used to be,” said DeFrancisco, who added the comptroller was “mistakenly” taken out of the process because Cuomo convinced lawmakers that the extra scrutiny just slowed the projects down.

DeFrancisco said the bill reinstates more “transparency and checks and balances over the executive.”

The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill and it’s ready to go to the floor for a vote, though no date has yet been set for debate.

In the Assembly, the measure also has a majority party sponsor. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was noncommittal, though, about the bill’s future, saying he wants to discuss it first with his Democratic members in conference.  Read full story here 

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