Assemblywoman Sandy Galef Offers Proposals to Reform the “Member Item” Distribution System
May 8, 2008
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef is proposing three bills to reform the member item process in New York to make it equitable, accountable, and detached from political campaigns. Galef believes that her reform legislation will make the distribution process fair for all legislators and their constituents. She states, “We should hold ourselves and our colleagues accountable to the citizens of New York. It is particularly important now, with the state facing a fiscal crisis that we insist on integrity of the member item process.” The state budget contains a significant amount – over $200 million in 2008-09 – of these unregulated funds. This taxpayer money is distributed without any significant oversight to determine how the money is used by programs, organizations and other causes, which are chosen solely at the members’ discretion. Funds are not distributed in equal amounts to all legislators, so citizens do not benefit equally from this high-cost state spending. Galef introduced three bills to reform the process:
- A.7364 an effort to make the process of distributing “member items” more open and equitable. This bill would require that all legislators in each house receive the same amount of member item funding to distribute in their districts.
- A.6666 would establish a task force on legislative items to investigate the present member item system and to recommend an alternative to the current process in order to assure accountability, transparency, and fairness.
- A.6019 would prohibit a member of the legislature from disbursing public moneys 60 days prior to an election so that public money is not used to advance a legislator’s political campaign.