“Our area’s voters wanted reform, and that is what we are doing here today,” said Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey (R,I,C-Peru). The Assemblywoman was referring to her support of the Assembly Minority’s plan to change the way Albany does business.
Earlier today, the Assembly Minority introduced the “Member-Item Integrity” plan. Member items are allocated state funds divided among members of the Assembly, Senate, and the Governor. These funds are then allocated to municipalities, civic groups, local organizations, and non-profit organizations in each representative’s district to better and improve their communities. Last year, each house in Albany received $85 million and the governor received $30 million.
However, over the past four years, the way these funds have been allocated, and what groups have received this funding has come under scrutiny from good government groups, the general public, and the media. In addition, much of this funding is not directly accounted for, but is allocated as a lump sum from what the state calls a “Community Projects” account.
Duprey joined with her Conference in calling for: equally allocating state funding amounts for all state legislators from their respective houses, defining member items as a state budget line-item (detailing the name of the Member, the organization receiving the money, the purpose of the money, the dollar amount, and the account where the money comes from), and a provision stating no funds should be allocated to any organization where the legislator or a senior staffer or relative receive compensation from the organization receiving the money.
The integrity plan also includes tougher sanctions and penalties against the misuse of funds, better ways to recoup illegal distributions, and calls for an annual review of all member items by an administering agency counsel.
Duprey stated, “This is really simple accounting, and Albany has lacked fiscal accountability for years. Our plan would bring this more in line with general accounting standards and open government.”