Vague Penn Station Deal Risks Billions In Public Funds

(FORBES) Richard McGahey, July 14, 2022

New York is pushing a major project to repair the antiquated Penn Station, using tax-subsidized private real estate development to finance public infrastructure repair. But a new report from my colleagues at the New School’s Schwartz Center shows not only a potential $3 billion gap in project financing, but also a lack of transparency which undercuts informed public debate. 

The report was commissioned by Reinvent Albany, advocates for “transparent and accountable New York State government.” The group has endorsed economic development reform legislation for the state, to increase transparency and public oversight of economic development spending.

The Penn Station report is their latest criticism of Governor Kathy Hochul, who already has brokered a bad deal using state funds to subsidize a billionaire owner’s football stadiumin Buffalo, and used the state budget process to get a $10 billion slush fund for semiconductor manufacturing without any effective transparency or public oversight.

Bridget Fisher and Flávia Leite, the report’s authors, are my colleagues in the New School’s Critical Public Finance program. They previously analyzed the problems and potential costs of New York City’s Hudson Yards project. Although Hudson Yards was sold to the public as being “self-financing,” Fisher and Leite showed unacknowledged potential public costs of up to $2.2 billion.

Source: Forbes