Friday, March 19, 2010

An end to tweeding money?

From the NY Times:

It is as regular as swallows returning to Capistrano: Every year, no matter how large the state’s deficit or how steep the cuts to critical government services, the Legislature dishes itself a healthy serving of pork. Tens of millions of dollars in earmarked state grants go to favored nonprofits, museums, cultural organizations and Little Leagues, with each check credited to the lawmaker or lawmakers who arrange it.

But as state officials look to close a budget gap of more than $9 billion, some lawmakers are saying enough is enough.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the State Assembly is sponsoring legislation that would prohibit all such grants, known in Albany as member items, for the next fiscal year, citing the state’s dire economic straits.

“It’s discretionary funding, and we are cutting required funding from all kinds of programs,” said Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, a Democrat who represents parts of Westchester and Putnam Counties. “In my view, it’s inappropriate. If we’re cutting money for the arts, should we do member items for the arts? I don’t think so.”

Ms. Galef has never requested member items of her own during nearly two decades in the Assembly. One of her co-sponsors on the bill, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, has also decided not to request member items this year.

“I have not submitted any requests,” Ms. Paulin said. “It’s very difficult at a time when my schools are not going to be getting enough state aid and my hospitals are going to be taxed. For me, in good conscience, I can’t take discretionary funds.”

WHOA. This will never pass. Without ice cream money, the pols can't silence complainers and buy support. Nope. Not gonna happen.

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