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NEW YORK

New York

State Recovery Act Website: http://www.recovery.ny.gov/

New York's state Recovery Act website scored 53 out of 100 possible points (ranking 5th) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus. The state earned a higher than average score by providing an interactive Google map with project location, description, cost, and quick links to contract information. The map is accompanied by a downloadable spreadsheet of certified projects. Contractor information: available here.

New York scored 53 out of 100 (ranking 5th) on its disclosure of information specifically about highway projects funded by the Recovery Act.  The state's transportation data score was boosted by its disclosure of the number of actual jobs created by each highway project, and expected project duration. Contractor information: available here.

For detailed scoring information, see the New York appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

The state Senate also has a stimulus page, which contains details on the available funding streams and video clips from town hall meetings about the stimulus being held around the state.

Coordination & Oversight

The New York State Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet has a total of 39 members and includes individuals from numerous state agencies and institutions, along with some of the governor's senior staff. Timothy J. Gilchrist leads the cabinet and serves as the Senior Advisor for Infrastructure and Transportation. Since 2007 he served as Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Infrastructure, and had previously worked with the New York State Department of Transportation.

In addition, the Office of the State Comptroller will be tracking state stimulus funding, although only a limited amount of stimulus-specific information is currently on the Comptroller's Open Book website.  The Government Accountability Office also has at least two full-time staff in New York overseeing the distribution of stimulus funds.

New York City has its own recovery website, the Stimulus Tracker, where residents can track the use of ARRA funds in New York City through eight main categories: 1. Infrastructure, 2.Energy Efficiency, 3. Economic and Workforce Development, 4. Health and Social Services, 5.Education, 6.Public Safety, 7. Neighborhood Stabilization, and 8. Budget Relief. The site is still under construction.

In April, New York City Councilmember Bill de Blasio and others introduced legislation to improve stimulus transparency. The bill would, among other things, create another city-level transparency website called SunlightNYC.  It would track the expected impact of each project funded, including economic growth and other economic indicators and information on all subcontractors that receive stimulus funds.  It would also provide email updates on specific spending projects or areas and the ability to download all posted information to allow for more detailed analysis.  The site would be required to be entirely compatible with Recovery.gov to help users track where funds for City projects came from and how much was allocated, compared to similar projects across the country.

On May 27 Gov. Paterson sent a memo to all state agencies handling ARRA funds saying that the contracts they award must include a rider stipulating that all jobs created have to be posted through the Department of Labor. The rider also requires contractors to keep detailed records and notes that additional reporting requirements may be established.

Policy Debates

Some of the biggest disputes regarding stimulus spending in New York State have revolved around healthcare and education, and the state's distribution of federal dollars.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is challenging the share of federal stimulus funding for Medicaid (FMAP funding) that the state plans to allocate to the city. New York City officials expected to receive between $2.1 billion and $2.8 billion in FMAP funding over the next two years, but the State plans to provide the city with only $1.9 million. At the heart of this dispute is whether the stimulus funding is meant to supplement state Medicaid funding, or whether it could be used, at least in part, to replace it.

A related controversy is Gov. Paterson's claim that states can use Medicaid stimulus funds for other programs. Many in the healthcare industry, including the Greater New York Hospital Association and 1199SEIU, have challenged this.

Education funding in relation to the stimulus is another disputed issue. In late-March, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and the Alliance for Quality Education asked the U.S. Secretary of Education to ensure that the state not use stimulus funds to delay its court ordered commitment to increase school funding.

Common Cause/New York has convened a coalition called the NYS Stimulus Oversight Working Group, which is composed of more than two dozen diverse groups with the common interest of promoting greater participation and transparency in stimulus funding in New York. The Group released a set of Common Principles for Transparency and Accountability in February and has been pushing for the state to establish an independent stimulus ombudsman that will open the process and ensure long-term oversight of the stimulus package's other intended benefits.

Other groups have been calling on state legislators to use stimulus funds for New York's neediest residents. On June 30 Community Voices Heard held press conferences in New York City, Yonkers and Poughkeepsie to draw attention to $100 million from the ARRA's TANF contingency fund that could be leveraged to create employment for low-income people.

The NYS Stimulus Oversight Working Group has worked with state legislators to create a dedicated federal Stimulus Ombudsman's office (S5879/A8941) which would help New Yorkers understand how the state has used stimulus funds by evaluating project performance, the quality of jobs created (e.g., Are they paying decent wages and providing benefits?  Are these long-term positions?), and analyzing the positive impacts actually being felt by New York's families and communities.  The Ombudsman would be independently appointed and responsible for creating 'metrics for success' to provide evaluations of the community-level and household-level impact of stimulus funds and identifying 'best practices' so that New York is not only prepared but strategically-positioned for future funding opportunities. These evaluations would be released annually for New York agencies receiving federal stimulus funds.  The legislation follows letters sent to Governor Paterson by city and state legislators in May 2009 calling for expanded oversight.  A one-page description of the Ombudsman is available here.

A paper by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on how ARRA is helping states deal with their fiscal crises uses New York as one of its case studies.

Last updated on: 15 October, 2009

Quick Facts

Population:
19,490,297

Median Household Income:
$53,514

Unemployment Rate:
9.0%

Poverty Rate:
13.7%

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$21.7 billion

Resources

The Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) has recently done a lot of work analyzing the effects of the financial crisis. Additionally, the organization's Executive Director Frank Mauro and Chief Economist James Parrott wrote an article in February for the National Association of County Administrators' Journal of County Administration. Titled We're All in This Together: Federal, State, and Local Governments All Have a Part to Play in the Economic Recovery, the article emphasizes that despite much needed help from federal stimulus funds, state and local governments will still need to determine how to best balance their budgets with spending cuts and/or tax increases. FPI subsequently prepared policy briefs on how New York may use the TANF emergency contingency fund created by ARRA.

Community Innovators Lab @ MIT: New York Stimulus Matrix; online here.

 

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