Galef Says Member Items Should Not be Used as Campaign Tools

August 17, 2006

State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef today said it is time to stop using taxpayer dollars in the form of member items to re-elect state legislators in New York. The Assemblywoman expressed concern about the practice of distributing member items to constituents as a way of promoting a legislator’s candidacy.

Galef said: “We need rules that prevent incumbents from announcing, distributing, or promoting the use of member items during the campaign season. It gives incumbents an unfair advantage and uses taxpayer dollars to do so. There should be a system in place whereby no announcements of funding by an incumbent legislator can be made two months prior to an election. In addition, the entire system needs to be reformed to become transparent, with standards, accountability, and equity. I see this as another step in reforming the way we do the people’s business in Albany.”

The Assemblywoman has sponsored legislation to change the process of distributing “member items” to make it more open and equitable. Current law does not acknowledge the existence of members items. Galef’s bill A1740 adds a new section to the state finance law to make the process of distributing member items. Some of the provisions are:

  • Provides that if there is any addition to the governor’s budget bill for a member item, then every legislator in that house shall be entitled to direct an equal appropriation for use in his or her legislative district
  • Requires that for each proposed additional appropriation, public hearings take place 30 days prior to adoption, and disclosure of:

    • The formal name of the program, its sponsoring group, and its full address,
    • The names of the sponsoring legislator or legislators,
    • A description of and justification for the program,
    • Whether a sponsoring legislator, or any of his or her family members, is an employee or conducts business with the sponsoring group or program.

For more information on this bill or ways to help reform the system in Albany, contact the Assemblywoman at 914-941-1111.