Senator James Skoufis (D-Orange County), Chair of the Senate Investigations & Government Operations Committee, advanced a key provision to reign in “bad deals” by the Orange County Industrial Development Agency (OC IDA) in the Senate’s one-house budget proposal, released recently. The provision would create a state monitor specifically tasked with protecting taxpayer interests and reviewing deals brokered by the OC IDA. The monitor would have the power to overrule tax break packages if deemed irresponsible or wasteful, and to impose operational changes within the agency.
Skoufis has long been an outspoken critic of the OC IDA. Following the release of his 2019 Senate investigative report into public authorities and IDAs statewide, three former OC IDA officials pled guilty to corruption charges and were sentenced to pay more than $1 million in restitution for self-dealing and concealing conflicts of interest.
Last month, Skoufis announced an investigation into the OC IDA’s recent decision to award a 15-year corporate subsidy to an existing Goshen-based food processing facility that will cost the local community and school district more than $2.25 million. The developer acknowledged in writing that they didn’t need the subsidy to proceed with their expansion, but were granted the money anyway.
“In the wake of the Orange County IDA’s well-documented scandals and the resulting leadership shakeup, we had hoped the agency would clean its act up and stop ripping off taxpayers. We were sorely mistaken,” said Skoufis. “If the IDA refuses to act in good faith to protect the public interest, the state has an obligation to step in and safeguard taxpayers. I won’t sit idly by while the IDA picks the pockets of Orange County residents year after year.”
With successful inclusion of Skoufis’ reform in the Senate’s one-house budget, negotiations will now begin with the Assembly and Governor towards a final budget, due April 1.