New York has spent over $161 million on promoting state tourism as well as the state’s business climate since Governor Andrew Cuomo first came to the office in 2011, according to data released by Cuomo’s administration after a lengthy delay.
About $113 million of that money was spent on TV and radio commercials which promoted the state. Many critics have questioned whether tax dollars are being put to their best use where the campaign is concerned, and they argue that the governor is using the ads to boost Cuomo’s own standing at a time when many state Republicans are saying that sections of the state are economically frigid.
“Andrew Cuomo has taken more than a quarter-billion dollars of taxpayer money and put it into television advertising for his own political gain,” said Rob Astorino, the Republican governor nominee. Cuomo will have to face another election this November.
As a result of outside pressure, the state controller, Thomas DiNapoli, has announced this week that he would audit the program in order to measure how well it was working, and whether it was being used for questionable purposes. Media outlets had been requesting the spending data under the Freedom of Information Law for over a year before the administration finally issued a five-page response last week.
About $28 million have gone toward promoting the Start UP NY program, which gives businesses tax breaks if they relocate to designated areas. Gov. Cuomo hit some rough waters this past week in Indian Lake, NY. However, unlike the budget kerfuffle, this was all part of the plan: Cuomo, girlfriend Sandra Lee, and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin took a white water raft ride as part of the Adirondack Challenge, in an effort to further promote tourism for the area.