Contact: Phil Oliva, (518) 455-3756
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Assembly Minority: Overhaul Member Item Process or Do Away With It

Assembly Minority members today called for a major overhaul to the State Legislature's member item process. They say the current process lacks transparency, accountability and fairness, and because of that it is a process vulnerable to fraud or at least the appearance of impropriety.

"No one can defend the system as it currently stands. So we have to completely reform the process or simply do away with it," said Tedisco. "If done properly the member item process can have value."

The annual member-item allocation is divided among the two houses of the State Legislature and the governor. Last year, each house of the legislature received $85 million and the governor received $30 million. However, the minorities in each house receive substantially less than the majority. In the State Assembly last year, Majority members received $83 million of the allotment, or 97.6 percent.

Also, up until 2000, member items were listed in budget bills or in legislative reports, but in recent years the grants have been lumped together in a single appropriation, funded out of a special "Community Projects" account.

The Assembly Minority members have introduced the "Member-Item Integrity" plan:

  • All legislators receive an equal amount of state dollars from their respective house allocation.

  • All member items (including the governor's) to be line-itemed in the state budget with the name of only one member sponsor, the organization receiving the money, detailed purpose for the money, dollar amount and the account authorizing the money.

  • No money sent to any organization where the legislator or a senior staffer (those earning over $75K), or an immediate family member of a legislator or senior staffer, receives any compensation from the organization.

  • Tougher sanctions and penalties against misallocation of funds and expedited means to recoup illegally disbursed funds.

  • Annual review of all member items and report by administering agency counsel.

New York State Assembly
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