Gov. Kathy Hochul at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts...

Gov. Kathy Hochul at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at Long Island University-C.W. Post.  Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

When Gov. Kathy Hochul became governor nearly 16 months ago, she emphasized that it was the start of a “new era of transparency.”

Now, she has two easy ways to show she meant what she said.

A pair of bills await her signature that would shed light on the often opaque nature of Albany. Hochul still hasn’t called them to her desk, and time is running out. They effectively will be vetoed if not signed into law by the end of the year.

She can start with one of the most important bills still outstanding, an effort to restore the state comptroller’s oversight over contracts.

The comptroller had that power for decades until former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo began to strip it away in 2011. Whether that effort was meant to get the comptroller’s eyes off key state contracts or, in a more kind interpretation, to make the process more efficient, it was a bad move.

Restoring full oversight is a no-brainer. Over the last decade, billions of dollars in contracts have skirted State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s scrutiny, leaving taxpayers in the dark as to whether the deals were fair and competitively priced, whether vendors were aboveboard and chosen for the right reasons, and whether there were troubling instances of pay-to-play.

Providing contract oversight won’t slow down government operations or procurement. DiNapoli says his office can analyze most contracts within two weeks and, on average, turn a contract around in five days. The most complex contracts might need more time, hence the bill’s provision that gives him 90 days.

There has been some debate over some of the bill’s provisions — namely, which contracts would fall under DiNapoli’s jurisdiction and what the minimum threshold, now $50,000, should be. Necessary tweaks or minor chapter amendments must not water down the bill to the point where it’s ineffective.

Hochul can go a step further in promoting good government practices by signing Assemb. Michaelle Solages’ bill regarding the Empire State Development community advisory committees that are established for many state economic development projects. The committees, which include local elected officials and community members, meet in secret and aren’t required to post agendas, minutes or materials to ESD’s website.

That’s absurd. Solages’ bill would require the committees to open their meetings to the public and post their material online. Such a law would have produced a more open process during the Belmont Park redevelopment, giving the community more input into and a better understanding of the project and addressing concerns more quickly.

Amid hundreds of pieces of legislation Hochul has had to assess in recent months, these two good government bills are particularly important. Hochul should sign both. If she doesn’t, one might wonder when that “new era of transparency” is actually going to begin.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.