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IDA reform dead for now

The IDA reform bill did not pass the State Legislature this session. Whether the issue is dead for good depends on who you talk to.

Much of the recent press coverage focused on provisions of the bill that would have required the payment of prevailing wages on IDA projects. There was a lot more to the bill. The consolidation of the six IDAs in Erie County into one. The imposition of penalties on companies that fail to meet their job-creation commitments. More transparency in the granting of IDA benefits.

HoytAssemblyman Sam Hoyt, prime sponsor of the bill, says there was room for compromise.

"There wasn't a single part of my bill that wasn't open for negotiation," he said Wednesday.

The Assembly passed a reform bill several months ago. A companion bill wasn't introduced in the Senate until a few days ago. Serious talks involving the governor's office and Senate and Assembly leaders didn't ensue, Hoyt said.

"There were discussions. but there were no three-way negotiations," Hoyt said.

Carrie Brunk of Jobs With Justice, an advocate of IDA reform, said there were indications as late as Monday that a deal was in the works. But the surprise announcement by Joe Bruno that he was stepping down as majority leader of the Senate ended that, as the scramble over who would succeed him took precedent.

Hoyt holds out hope that a deal can be reached in the future, but Jim Allen, executive director of the Amherst IDA, doesn't sound interested.

"I can't see any basis of a compromise," he said.

He listed what he considered several deal killers, including prevailing wages on construction and living wages for workers employed by companies based in IDA-financed.

"The stuff the unions want, we can't live with," he said.

The proposed consolidation also raised Allen's ire.

"We don't want to consolidate, and if we do, we'll let you know," he said.

"Let's move on, let's collaborate, let's cooperate," Allen added.

Beats me what happens from here. But for the foreseeable future, the stalemate leaves non-profits unable to use IDA benefits for their projects. Some $2.5 billion of work hangs in the balance.

Brunk, of Jobs With Justice, said reform advocates will stay the course. (This post includes links to newspaper coverage on the issue from around the state.)

"We'll continue the fight and expect a resolution," she said.

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IDAs | State government
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