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Keep Bills’ talks in the open

Two Buffalo-area state legislators want to see discussions over renovations to Highmark Stadium or construction of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills be public.

It’s hard to believe filling that request should require passage of a state law, but this is New York state after all, where spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money without anyone knowing is commonplace.

So yes, we approve of legislation proposed by Assemblyman Pat Burke, D-West Seneca, and state Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Buffalo, to make sure deliberations about the Bills’ future are held publicly. Whether it’s a new stadium with a projected pricetag of $1 billion or renovations that are likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, we know some of that money will be provided by state and Buffalo-area governments. That spending should be discussed and approved in public meetings.

Our only contention with the proposal is that it is too narrow in scope. Not only should the Bills’ stadium discussions be public, but any spending by a state authority or local government on sports stadiums or entertainment venues should be done publicly.

We live in a state that vacillates between being flush with money and crying poverty every couple of years. School officials have begged for more state money every year for decades. Local governments are begging for more reimbursement money for road work on state-owned roads. Local needs are often crowded out of the state budget. If sports stadiums and entertainment venues are going to be getting state and local money, the public should know about the spending before it happens, not after.

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