Calling for Development Accountability
From around the state a coalition of community, policy, labor, and environmental organizations and have come together to form the New York State Initiative for Development Accountability (NYS IDA). Frustrated by the lack of quality jobs, transparency, and community participation in development as well as the negative environmental impacts of never-ending sprawl, these groups are targeting a main engine of subsidy distribution – Industrial Development Agencies (IDA) – for reform.
IDA’s hand out hundreds of millions of dollars a year in property tax breaks to companies across the state for the promise of new jobs and ostensibly other economic development “benefits”. But from North Country to Suffolk actual benefits are often underwhelming and sometimes completely scandalous. From the promise of jobs that actually result in net jobs lost, to counties stealing businesses (and jobs) with the lure of more tax breaks than their neighbors, to businesses with a long list of labor and environmental violations receiving tax-payer money IDA’s have not lived up to their promise.
In the coming months the Development Accountability coalition will be pushing for a set of reforms at the state level that include wage standards (prevailing and living wage), local hiring, community impact reports, increased transparency, a greater role for the public in the process, increased environmental standards, clawbacks (“do what you promise or give us back the loot”), and other important measures. The inclusion of these reforms in the subsidy giveaway process would transform how development impacts the real lives of people who should be benefiting more from the economic growth of their communities.
The Senate and the Assembly must act by July to incorporate these reforms and the coalition is working in regions across the state to make sure that local communities and the elected officials who represent them are speaking in one loud voice for subsidy accountability.