Byrne Joins Colleagues to Call For Hearing on Administration’s Questionable COVID-19 Test Purchases

Posted: September 13, 2022 in In the News

In light of recent news reports of the governor awarding COVID-19 test kit contracts to campaign donors at higher prices, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,Ref-Mahopac) joined Republican Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski) and Assemblyman Ed Ra (R–Franklin Square) in requesting an immediate public hearing of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee to investigate the state’s COVID-19 spending.

As published in a recent Albany Times Union article, New York state ordered millions of COVID-19 test kits at a substantially higher rate without competitive bidding or oversight from the state comptroller. The test kits being sold in New York are valued at an average of $12.25 each, while many other companies have sold their tests for as low as $5. 

“The idea that we are forcing New Yorkers to pay more during a time of high inflation, immediately after the end of a pandemic, is blasphemous,” Byrne said. “We should be working with the people of New York, instead of against them. Gov. Hochul has proven yet again that she is not looking out for the state’s best interest. I hope that this will assist in working toward a more affordable New York.” 

“This administration orchestrated the purchase of millions of COVID-19 test kits – well above market price – from a major campaign donor to the governor, and the people of New York deserve to know why, and how, that happened without any bidding or oversight,” said Leader Barclay. “At the very least, the public deserves a hearing to address how this deal was arranged, why it lacked a formal contract and the seemingly questionable timing of relevant communications.”

“The sheer volume of the purchase, multiplied by the inflated price, has cost New Yorkers hundreds of millions in unnecessary spending. This is an enormous sum, and any potential impropriety surrounding the deal must be immediately addressed,” said Assemblyman Ra, the Republican Conference’s ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee. “Our call for a hearing comes in the name of basic fiscal responsibility, which at this time appears to have disappeared from the executive’s office.”  

Gov. Hochul has repeatedly extended her COVID-related emergency powers since taking office, which has allowed her to avoid normal oversight and protocols designed to check against wasteful, inappropriate spending. Those powers are set to expire again today.

Editor’s Note: The full letter is available here.

The above information was previously distributed and made public for immediate release by the Office of Assemblyman Kevin Byrne