Statement from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

August 21, 2020

“The comptroller’s audit of the Buffalo Billion and other high-tech economic development programs and projects was, sadly, both troubling and unsurprising.

The audit is clear and direct in its assessment; under Gov. Cuomo’s watch, Empire State Development (ESD) was inconsistent, sloppy and failed to protect New York-taxpayer money. Projects often hailed as job creators have not met their promised goals. In fact, some regions, including Western New York, saw a decrease in employment in high-tech industries like manufacturing and life sciences.

Projects ESD oversaw were not thoroughly vetted and were so superficial they lacked even the most basic cost-benefit analyses — the core of any economic development initiative. It is clear this administration’s priorities when handing out tax dollars are misaligned with what the state truly needs in order to overcome economic obstacles.

Going forward, it is imperative there are more sufficient checks and balances in place to prevent giving away New Yorkers’ hard-earned money with no tangible benefits. Now more than ever, it is critical every cent used in every project must be put through the wringer with full, public transparency. It is the only way to ensure this doesn’t continue to happen.”