After an initial budget reform agreement was reached last week, Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) stated that it was a positive first step, but more work remained. Fitzpatrick was proven right yesterday, with the discovery of 50 “secret slush funds” that have been used to fund $3.4 billion in unidentified projects.
“For six years these slush funds have been used to funnel billions of dollars to unidentified and unaccountable projects,” said Fitzpatrick. “These funds are an example of the corruption we need to address.”
The nearly $3.4 billion that has been allocated over the past six years far exceeds the $200 million “member-item” fund. Each fund is listed in the state budget without specific projects or legislators identified.
Efforts to determine the specific projects that were financed were unsuccessful. Fitzpatrick reiterated that the problem remains not with the actual funding, but the inability of the government to track how taxpayer monies are spent.
“If we are going to restore the public’s trust in our decision-making abilities, we can’t allow this kind of activity to continue to go unchecked,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s simply unacceptable that we can’t trace the money directly to a project. The people of New York deserve better.”