A few members of Rochester's Assembly delegation got into a heated debate last night over funding for the next phase of the Rochester Schools Modernization project.
Democrat David Gantt and Republican Bill Nojay both questioned whether the $1.2 billion project was on time and on budget.
Nojay said, "This has been a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. I believe Mr. Gantt is correct in his assumption or his questions about the number of schools that have been finished. In fact, my understanding is that none of the work has been finished according to any viable schedule or quality of work for the children of Rochester, New York."
Nojay and Gantt also said they wanted to delay funding for phase two of the project until the FBI is through with its investigation into whether minority and women-owned businesses were properly represented in the work.
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said his colleagues are wrong about their concerns.
"The truth is, every dollar spent has been accounted for. The project is on budget. I'll share with you some of the things that have been said publicly about the so-called FBI investigation. Suggestions that you would wait until the investigation concludes; I'm not sure what that means. The FBI is not in the habit when they conclude an investigation, when there are no charges brought, announcing to the public what they didn't find."
Morelle said the students attending school in deteriorating buildings should not have to wait indefinitely for improvements. Morelle says he believes the questions about compliance requirements for minority and women-owned businesses is related to the conduct of some minority engineers independent of their work on this project.
The Assembly ultimately authorized $435 million for phase two of the Modernization plan.