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Sen. Jeff Klein: Greater oversight of Cuomo projects may be off table

Sen. Jeff Klein, who leads the Independent Democratic

Sen. Jeff Klein, who leads the Independent Democratic Conference, speaks at a rally at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx on Feb. 22, 2017. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

ALBANY — Closed-door negotiations in the final days of the 2017 session haven’t included a measure that would provide more independent oversight to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s massive economic development, a legislative leader said Wednesday.

“There have been no discussions of procurement reform in the last few meetings,” Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) said in exiting the office of Cuomo, who is opposed to the reform pushed by the Senate. “There is no agreement.”

The measure known as procurement reform would restore some authority to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to do pre-audits of Cuomo’s contracts and his major economic development, some of which including his Buffalo Billion is under federal investigation.

Cuomo and the Legislature have reduced some of the comptroller’s authority to oversee Cuomo’s use of billions of dollars in economic development aid and tax breaks as a way to speed the process and help grow jobs faster.

“It will be a missed opportunity,” said David J. Friedfel, director of state studies at the independent Citizens Budget Commission.

“Adoption of the state comptroller’s procurement reform bill would restore needed oversight, without hampering the state’s economic development programs,” Friedfel said. “In contrast, another scandal will further undermine businesses willing to engage in economic development in New York State. And most importantly, the state’s taxpayers deserve to know that state government is doing everything it can to protect public dollars.”

There was no immediate comment from DiNapoli, who proposed the measure, after the comment by Klein, who leads the Independent Democratic Conference.

Cuomo said his agencies already adequately monitor the projects. He proposed his own added procurement oversight using his appointees.

The U.S. attorney’s office is investigating allegations of bid rigging involving developers, many of whom are also major campaign contributors to Cuomo.

Cuomo didn’t comment after the leaders’ meeting.

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