Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Big moves on member items (well, big for New York)

Yesterday, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a new approval process for member items, which would require grant recipients to disclose any ties to the sponsoring legislator and whether they had ever violated past state contracts.

This came on the same day that the Senate and Assembly passed reforms that, among other things, would itemize member items in the state budget.

As the Daily News points out, though, the member item deal between the Legislature and Governor Spitzer came out of the same “three men in a room” process that Spitzer disparaged throughout his campaign.

They compare the reform agreement to ideas making their way on the national stage: proposed congressional legislation would require lawmakers to post earmarks on the web, identifying the member sponsoring it, at least two days before the vote actually occurs.

The Daily News argues:
Spitzer should have included ideas like those in a gold-standard reform bill, then challenged lawmakers to pass it, improve it or explain why not. That would have taken more time and energy, but it would also have shown he was serious about changing the status quo.
Despite its limited nature, we do appreciate the importance of the steps taken yesterday toward more transparency in the budget process.

However, we also note that there was almost no coverage of the actual passage of the budget reforms. Much like watching Punxsutawney Phil come out of his hole, most papers, rather than wasting ink on the formality of the vote, simply covered the emergence of the three men from the room last week. Unfortunately, that still seems to be the news that matters.

Categories: General

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