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By Marie Cusick

February 10, 2012

Ask just about any politician these days, and he’ll likely tell you that a big part of his job is to create jobs...

Here in New York, industrial development agencies (IDAs) are one of main job creation mechanisms for local communities.

In 2009, IDAs gave away close to half a billion dollars in tax breaks to companies in the name of economic development...

But in their four decades of existence, they’ve been accused of everything from failing to comply with state laws, to simply being inefficient...

Allison Duwe heads the labor-backed, Coalition for Economic Justice, and is an advocate for reforming IDAs.

“Everyone right now is saying that we’re broke and that we need to all tighten our belts, and we need to think about cutting spending,” she says. “But the reality is we’re not broke. There’s money that we’re not collecting from corporations, from businesses, that are receiving significant tax breaks.”

Duwe’s referring to the nearly $500 million in tax exemptions IDAs granted in 2009 - mainly through property and sales tax breaks...

There are currently 115 [IDAs] around the state – sometimes more than half a dozen in the same county. In some cases, IDAs have been accused of working against each other when courting companies...

Reform advocates say all of these issues mean it’s time to take another look at IDAs.

Kristi Barnes is with the Alliance for a Greater New York – an advocacy group based in New York City.

“Where people see [IDAs] hitting home is really in their property tax levies, in their school taxes … who’s actually paying the tax burden? … It’s being shifted from big companies onto everyday working families,” she argues.

But complicating the adoption of a revised approach is the state’s economy – DiNapoli recently issued a report that found that New York is recovering more slowly than expected.

Meaning: It can be tough to argue against anything that could create a job – even if it doesn’t always work.

To read the full article visit WNYC

This article also appeared in Innovation Trail