By now we've all heard about the $427 million in budget cuts the legislature passed last week, but you may have missed this article in the New York Daily News about the word on the street that member items won't take much of a hit.
While the approved cuts include a $50 million reduction in member items, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was quoted as telling his members that they wouldn't have to break any promises of cash for their constituents. We thought it might be an appropriate moment, then, to review a few highlights from the 2008-09 member items, culled from NY PIRG's member item database:
- $750,000 in the Assembly for "activities including fashion industry modernization" in the garment district of Manhattan
- $7,500 in the Assembly to improve the parking lot of the Catskills Elks Lodge
- $50,000 in the Senate for a larger deck and boathouse for a YMCA summer camp in Warren County
- $100,000 in the Senate for the Long Island Contractors Association's public outreach efforts
The list goes on (and on; there are about 5000 member items in each house for the 2008-09 fiscal year). And as we've blogged before, member items are wildly skewed toward the majority in both houses. If member items do take a cut under the new budget plan, we'll be anxious to see who wins out in the budgetary battle between the contractors and the little league.