News NY

‘Member Items’ Still Linger in Budget—Governor Issues Line Item Vetoes

 By Jack O’Donnell

The recently approved state budget continues a long tradition of re-appropriating money for existing projects funded through member items.

The 2019 fiscal plan outlines just over $7.6 million in re-appropriations for more than 900 items in the Community Projects program in the Aid to Localities budget bill.

While the state has not approved new member-item funding since 2009, existing projects are re-appropriated for thousands of earmarks totaling millions of dollars each year. Lawmakers say it’s a way to direct money to their districts to complete necessary projects, but the governor and other critics have denounced the practice as pork-barrel spending.

Each year the governor has the option of removing budget language when an appropriation has a low undisturbed balance or if there has been no spending from the appropriation for a number of years. The Governor vetoed a number of items at the deadline last Friday. You can read them by clicking here.

Republicans in the state Senate reaped the largest share of the re-appropriations with $5,134,005 in member items. The Assembly GOP have had $2,162,759 in funds re-appropriated.

Senate Democrats saw a significant decrease in their line items, from $641,483 last year to $360,700 in re-appropriations this year. The account linked to Assembly Democrats had no re-appropriations listed, although there was one item for $11,707 tied to an Assembly economic development account.

The budget also includes $243 million in unspecified lump-sum re-appropriations to various state departments.