Economic development needs to be monitored
Recently I conducted a required hearing in Albany to assess the progress of our many state economic development programs, including the Buffalo Billion and Start-Up NY. I, along with my colleagues, questioned Howard Zemsky, who heads these programs.
An editorial in this newspaper called the in-depth questioning of Zemsky “bizarre,” because, along with Zemsky, I, too, am from Western New York, and we should be a team. Additionally, it accused me of “squelching the efforts” of the new Buffalo.
Taxpayers of this state deserve to know when their hard-earned money has a poor return on investment. The $50 million in marketing dollars spent on promoting Start-Up NY has resulted in very few jobs in return, much fewer than has been projected by state officials. Taxpayers also deserve transparency. When the Start-Up NY annual report is months late, consists of three pages in a larger report and includes murky details buried in a footnote and dubious figures, yes, I’m going to question it.
Accountability is needed. If the State Legislature doesn’t provide oversight, who will? My job as a legislator is to represent the people of my district, to make sure that their interests are being furthered.
I am excited about continuing progress in Buffalo and Western New York. I am excited to be a part of this community. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop asking the questions that need to be asked of the people who should be providing the answers.
Assemblyman, 140th District