Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Regional Councils Weakened by Legislature

As originally proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his Regional Economic Development Councils would be directly distributing $130 million and be overseen by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, but that vision is not shared in the budget introduced in the Senate and appears to be tweaked in the Assembly.
In the initial plan by the governor, the councils would have "$130 million for competitively determined economic development projects" and would be involved in the dispersement of over $340 million overall, including helping areas impacted by prison closings.
In the Senate, which has been welcoming of the governor's ideas, but has shown a reluctance to empower Duffy, there are no mentions of "regional economic development councils" in the latest version of their capital projects budget bill. Their first amended copy of the proposal echoed the governor's wishes, but their most recent version has no role for the councils.
The $340 million does appear to be included in their proposal, though, but it looks like it will be distributed through more traditional means. Whereas the governor's budget seemed to take money from existing economic development projects, which the Senate seems to love.
In the Assembly, which has been the most resistant to embrace the governor's budget, the Regional Economic Development Councils are granted the $130 million for regional projects and $100 million for regional revitalization in areas that lose a prison.
But, the Assembly does strip away a handful of references to the Regional Economic Development Councils, which seems to imply that they would have a reduced role compared to the one envisioned by Cuomo.

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