Dark money: State legislators want more say in $400M fund

Transformative Investment Fund contributed to Steiner Studios, Empire Outlets, Lighthouse Point

Assembly member Jim Tedisco and Empire State Development Corp. CEO Howard Zemsky
Assembly member Jim Tedisco and Empire State Development Corp. CEO Howard Zemsky

Assemblymember Jim Tedisco introduced a bill that would give the state legislature more control over a $400 million discretionary fund that’s contributed to major projects in the city.

The Transformative Investment Fund, created last year by disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, is currently allocated as a block, and overseen by the Empire State Development, with the choice of which specific projects will receive funds left to state agencies.

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Money from the TIF has gone to projects such as Steiner Studios’ new 179,000-square-foot complex at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; BFC Partners’ Empire Outlets and Triangle Equities’ Lighthouse Point, both on Staten Island; as well as the Knightsbridge National Ice Center in the Bronx, Politico reported..

“This is a classic example of the piggy bank that needs to be broken open,” Tedisco, a Republican, told the news serve, “and the bill we had would provide for those criteria, and be a magnifying glass to show us exactly how that money is being used and how individual initiatives are picked.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has previously defended the TIF’s current structure, saying it grants much-needed flexibility. Cuomo allocated $400M to the fund in his 2016-2017 budget and made no other changes to the funding, Politico reported. [Politico]Ariel Stulberg