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Cuomo slams DiNapoli, legislature for jobs program critiques

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks onJuly 28, 2016, at

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks onJuly 28, 2016, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo blasted fellow Democrats Thursday after state auditors questioned the value of billions of dollars of Cuomo’s economic development programs.

“What you are getting in an audit is that person’s opinion, right?” Cuomo told reporters Thursday.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s audits are done by the office’s permanent workforce of auditors. DiNapoli comments on the public policy implications on the findings and sometimes recommends legislation to address deficiencies.

“The reports completed by our professional auditors speak loudly for themselves,” said DiNapoli spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman.

In July, auditors sampled 25 companies in Cuomo’s economic development program. The audit found 328 companies received more than $548 million in tax credits in exchange for promises to invest $5.8 billion and create 34,472 jobs. But auditors reported that Cuomo’s Empire State Development Corp. used a higher wage amount in calculations than was paid, resulting in bloated tax credits; changed job commitments to lower figures when goals weren’t met; and that some new hires didn’t meet the standard of working at least 35 hours a week. Auditors said more than $4.4 million in tax credits weren’t supported by Empire State Development’s records.

Last year, DiNapoli’s audit of Empire State Development’s $211 million TV advertising campaign to promote economic development and tourism found it delivered no tangible benefit.

On Thursday, Cuomo noted that DiNapoli, of Great Neck Plaza, is a former assemblyman, then slammed the legislature as senators and Assembly members are campaigning for re-election.

“The comptroller was an assemblyman for many, many years,” Cuomo said, adding that before he became governor the state faced a dismal economic future.

“The New York State Legislature has been a significant part of the problem,” Cuomo said Thursday.

The criticism comes a week after Assemb. Robin Schimminger (D-Kenmore) held a hearing on Cuomo’s signature economic development programs. He and other Democrats and Republicans said Cuomo’s numbers didn’t add up and questioned the value of tax breaks to employers selected by the Cuomo administration.

Cuomo afterward questioned if Schimminger has spent any time recently in his own district, which Cuomo said is benefiting from his Western New York jobs programs.

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