REDC model is the reason for Buffalo Billion’s success
In the article on the Buffalo Billion 2, The News once again misses the point. The salient Western New York issue in this budget is not whether the Legislature will appropriate $500 million to Buffalo; the question is for what. The governor proposed the $500 million Buffalo Billion 2 plan to follow the path and success of the first Buffalo Billion plan. That is a process led by the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs), whereby local business, academic and political leaders developed a long-term business strategy that the state funded.
The Legislature’s proposal is something entirely different. The proposal is for legislators to direct the $500 million in spending. They are against the REDC model. They want to go back to the legislative model whereby they give out grants. That is the definition of “pork barrel.” It’s a waste of money and the governor will not allow it. Assemblyman Robin Schimminger’s proposal to require REDC members to do the same personal and financial disclosure as an Assembly member is absurd and a not-so-subtle effort to end the REDCs. No private citizen would serve pro-bono on a REDC.
The governor tried to compromise and offered the legislators input through the REDCs, but they want control; and that’s the point. This is not a subtle distinction. It is the threshold issue of who “controls” the money. The governor wants a locally run business plan like the successful BB1, and the Legislature wants a political process. In our opinion, that’s the difference between the success of BB1 and the failure of the past 30 years.
The governor has said he will veto a plan that is $500 million for legislative pork, so it is really a question of $500 million or zero and a question of whether Western New York progress continues or not.
State Budget Director