Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Consequences of Abolishing Member Items

Yesterday, the Politicker, the New York Observer’s blog, noted that member item reform might actually serve to consolidate more power in the hands of legislative leaders. On the Assembly side, they argue:
Restricting how members give out money in their districts will undoubtedly allow Spitzer to claim credit for instituting a needed reform, but it would also have the effect of depriving the rank-and-file members of what little discretion they have, making them even more dependent on Silver.
We think that the abolition of member items in both the Assembly and Senate can only lead to a better, more transparent legislature. However, we would point out that the adoption of critical rules changes would empower rank-and-file members to participate more fully and fairly in the legislative and appropriations process and counteract the problem identified by the Politicker. Legislators wouldn’t be able to target spending to their pet projects if member items were taken away, but combined with rules changes, reform would give rank-and-file members a more effective and responsible voice in how tax dollars are spent in New York.

Categories: General, Legislative Rules

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