NYS Budget Countdown: fate of Design-Build & IDA ‘reform’

As the Governor and State Legislature work to finalize a State Budget before the April 1 deadline, the future of both Design-Build and IDA ‘reform’ in New York is becoming clearer.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership and our partner organization, Unshackle Upstate, have long advocated for a permanent Design-Build program in New York.

Design-Build allows for a single entity to submit one contract proposal for both the design and construction phases of a project.

It is widely accepted that combining the design and construction elements of a project saves time and money by increasing accountability and limiting finger-pointing between different firms working on the same project.

design build
Credit: Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA)

New York had a temporary Design-Build program on the books for three years that applied to certain public infrastructure projects; it expired in 2014.

In his last two budget proposals, Governor Cuomo has called for the extension of Design-Build in New York. Unfortunately, it was tied to a costly and anti-taxpayer mandate known as a Project Labor Agreement (PLA).

A PLA would only allow union firms to work on Design-Build projects, negating the cost benefits of Design-Build.

Both the Senate and Assembly excluded all language related to Design-Build in their respective one-house budget resolutions.

It has been, and remains, the position of the Partnership, Unshackle Upstate and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) that no Design-Build program in New York is better than one tied to a PLA.

The Partnership also strongly opposes the Governor’s proposed changes to policies governing local Industrial Development Agencies (IDA). Packaged as ‘reform,’ the proposals actually circumvent local decision making and centralize economic development decisions in Albany.

Incentives advanced by local IDAs have been critical to not only helping foster development of neglected properties, but also attracting new jobs and investment, especially in a state known for having some of the highest property taxes in the country.

Local IDAs know the economic conditions in their communities, and can respond to growing and changing needs.

Consolidating IDA decisions in Albany will certainly lead to more bureaucracy and longer approval timelines – two things the Upstate economy can’t afford.

The Partnership is pleased that both the Senate and Assembly have excluded the IDA language from their respective budget proposals, and the issue is not currently on the table as the Governor and legislative leaders negotiate a final budget agreement.

Check back next week to learn what’s in and what’s out of the State Budget, and how the Partnership scores the final product.

Grant Loomis Headshot

About Grant Loomis

Vice President, Government Affairs