Monday, September 17, 2007

Surprise! Things Remain the Same in Albany

Dan Weisner reports in today's Poughkeepsie Journal that the majority parties in each chamber still give themselves way more money for staff and offices expenses than they give to the other guys:

State senators spent about $18 million on staff and office expenses in the six months ending March 31, with Republicans outspending Democrats more than two to one and hiring more than twice as many staff members, according to a new report. . . At the same time, Assembly Democrats, who have a 108-42 majority in their house, outspent Republicans $16.4 million to $4.2 million, a similar report said.

Kudos to Senator Bonacic for continuing to rail against this unfair, undemocratic practice:

"By punishing a minority member, by giving them less money, you're really hurting their constituency and their ability to represent constituents effectively," said Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope. "I believe we should be empowering our members more and diluting the power of the leadership in both houses."

We couldn't agree more. Most Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the Assembly continue to defend the status quo, arguing as Senator Winner does in the article, that there's nothing unusual about the practice. But indeed, it is unusual -- yet another example of the New York legislature believing it should play by different rules than other legislatures around the country.

We've asked it before, and we'll ask it again: If Congress and the New York City Council (to name just two legislatures that might offer a relevant comparison) can provide equal allotments for staff and offices to members, why can't the New York State legislature?

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