By Zack Seward
September 15, 2011
Will it work?
We hear this sentiment a lot when we talk to experts about the councils: There's reason to be optimistic, but the proof will be in the pudding.
One of those people is Matt Ryan, the executive director of the Alliance for a Greater New York. His labor-backed organization produced a report on the new councils back in June.
The top line finding was that the councils are a step in the right direction — creating one economic vision for a region versus, say, 25 is a vast improvement.
But Ryan points out that the 800-million-dollar pool of "cobbled together" money preserves old programs, and could potentially let strategies that aren't working continue under the banner of a "new" approach.
RYAN "Even if you're making more coordinated and effective decisions, is the money really delivering a return on investment?"
That's not the only potential problem with the councils: Ryan says, there's also what happens after this year.
RYAN "Can the legislature hammer something out with the executive branch that really puts our public investment behind this for the long-term? And I think that's where the rubber's going to hit the road."
Add to that the competitive element — that some regions will get a big chunk of money, and others won't. And that's likely to cause tension when legislators return to Albany in January to piece together funding that will keep the regional council framework alive.
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