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A News Release worth reprinting – NYS member item spending problems

July 12, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010 

THE REAL RUB IN THIS STORY IS THAT NOT ONLY ARE LEGISLATORS ABUSING THEIR POWER IN CREATING  UNFIARNESS, BUT CONSIDER TOO THAT THIS FAIR SHARE IS ABOUT PORK BARREL SPENDING TO BEGIN WITH.

ANALYSIS: OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF NEW YORKERS LOSE IN STATE’S “MEMBER-ITEM LOTTERY”114 ASSEMBLY AND 43 SENATE DISTRICTS RECEIVE LESS THAN “FAIR SHARE”

REFORMERS URGE FAIRNESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF “GROTESQUELY UNFAIR” SYSTEMThe overwhelming majority of New Yorkers live in Senate or Assembly legislative districts that lose out in the state’s member item system. According to an analysis released by civic groups, New Yorkers who live in 114 of the 141 Assembly districts that received member items and in 43 of the 62 Senate districts receive less than the ”fair share” or average amount of the $170 million typically spent on member items. 

The Brennan Center for Justice, Citizens Union of the State of New York, Common Cause/NY, the League of Women Voters/N.Y.S. and NYPIRG released the analysis and decried the current member item system and “grotesquely unfair” and “cries out for change.” 

The member item program is discretionary spending typically controlled by legislators, or groups of legislators. Usually the recipients of such spending are not-for-profit corporations involved in delivering services to members of local communities. Historically, member items have been a source of controversy and scandal due to spending misuse by legislators and recipient groups. 

Member item spending is allocated based on the seniority, political power and political needs of legislators. The civic groups determined the “ideal” by taking the amount of member item spending distributed by individual legislators in each house then dividing this number by the number of legislators who participated in the program. Under this analysis, each Senator “ideally” would have awarded $1.2 million; each Member of the Assembly would have allocated $300,000. Each Senate district contains roughly 300,000 constituents, each Assembly district 126,000. 

Sixty-nine percent of New Yorkers live in a Senate district that received less than the “fair share.” Eighty-one percent of the population lives in an Assembly district that got less than its fair share.
The groups called on New York’s state elected officials to approve reform legislation introduced by Senator Serrano and Assemblywoman Galef (S.7007/A.10116). The legislation would mandate that each legislator receive equal shares of member item spending; sets standards for entities wishing to receive member items; and requires strict oversight of member item spending by state agencies and the Attorney General.

List of Legislators

NOTICE THE PATTERN, THE MOST LIBERAL THE DISTRICT – THE MORE THEY ARE GREEN.

 

TO SEE THE BREAKDOWN OF NEW YORK CITY AND LONG ISLAND DISTRICTS, CLICK HERE: http://www.nypirg.org/GOODGOV/memberItemLottery/default.html

(THEY FOLLOW THE SAME BASIC PATTERN)

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