Subisides for businesses meant to spur job creation have been championed by New York's state government as a primary engine for economic development. But a coalition of good-government organizations this week is calling on state lawmakers to scrutinize how the state spends the money.
The groups, led by Reinvent Albany, urged lawmakers on the state Senate Finance Committee in a letter released Monday to hold a public hearing on state subsidies and economic development efforts in New York.
The letter called for a "singular focus" on whether business subsidies work as intended by state officials -- in this case, creating jobs.
"The overwhelming majority of studies by independent scholars have found that business subsidies are not an effective use of public funds," the groups wrote in the letter.
New York has subsidized businesses to come to the state, including generous tax credits for film and TV production as well as efforts to stimulate the economy in upstate and western New York counties.
In some instances, these projects have come under the interest of federal prosecutors, as was the case with the Buffalo Billion economic development project conducted by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration.
The request for a public hearing focusing on the issue comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul is preparing her first State of the State address to be given next month. She will later submit her first budget proposal to the Legislature, which often provides far more specifics for the year's agenda.
"New Yorkers deserve to know whether 'economic development' spending is a good investment of public funds compared to traditional government investment in public infrastructure and education," the groups wrote.