Nicole Gelinas and Brian Anderson discuss recent disaster-relief efforts in the United States, the federal government’s role in such assistance, and how national flood insurance and other recovery programs could be reformed.
Since 2005, Washington has spent nearly $300 billion on disaster recovery, with state and local governments spending billions more. This figure doesn’t even include last year’s devastating storm season, which ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Federal and local authorities should concentrate the bulk of their spending on the infrastructure necessary to limit storm damage, and on immediate relief after storms have struck. Right now, however, the majority of disaster-relief expenditure goes toward repairing flooded properties after hurricanes—a task better left to the private sector.
Last month, Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, was found guilty on corruption charges for accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from two companies. Percoco’s conviction reinforces the perception that New York politics operates on a “pay-to-play” model.
Allegations of bid-rigging and other corrupt practices have dogged Albany ever since Governor Cuomo launched his signature economic-development plan, which provides subsidies to private firms to operate businesses in the state. Despite these efforts, New York continues to lose residents to other states every year.
Edmund J. McMahon is founder and research director of the Empire Center for Public Policy, based in Albany. Follow him on Twitter @EjmEj.