Contact: Phil Oliva, (518) 455-3756
For Immediate Release:
Monday, January 29, 2007

Member Items are Only a "Pig in a Blanket"
50 secret slush funds continue to hide the true pork

In recent weeks elected officials have taken steps to bring greater transparency and accountability to the so-called "Member-Item" process, where lawmakers get to dole out state funds for pet projects. However, according to Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady, Saratoga) that represents only a "tip-of-the-iceberg" when it comes to discretionary funds. Tedisco says he has found at least 50 "secret slush funds" dating back to the 2000-2001 state budget listed as lump sum allocations without specific projects or legislators identified.

Tedisco is calling on Governor Spitzer to eliminate them from the Executive Budget he plans to unveil on Wednesday.

The 50 slush funds total nearly $3.4 billion, far surpassing the $200 million "member-item" fund. Tedisco said he wasn't sure where the $3.4 billion went and was only sure that his Assembly Minority members didn't receive any of it.

"We're about to see if we're truly entering the age of transparency and accountability or whether we are going to continue to play this game of 'peek-a-boo'," said Tedisco. "We're talking about billions of dollars of pork that were not itemized in any of the last six budgets and were doled out in a manner not subject to full public scrutiny."

Tedisco said that while he believes many of the projects have merit, another way to allocate the funds needs to be decided upon.

"The current method, as we witnessed with the member-items, opens the door to waste, fraud and corruption," said Tedisco. "We need greater transparency, accountability and fairness. Currently there is none."

**Click here to a chart of Lump Sum Appropriations from 2000 to 2006**

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