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You Paid For It: Member Items
ALBANY -- Member items are no more. The pet project money that each NYS lawmaker would be given each year went away as some lawmakers started going away to prison; former Senators Pedro Espada and Shirley Huntley convicted of steering member item money into their own pockets.
But now money is flowing again in a different fashion. The New York Public Interest Research Group says there is a lot of money for lawmakers in the new State Budget, and some of it is hard to find. The NYS Comptroller says there are questions about transparency when it comes to the funds available to lawmakers.
There is 116 million dollars for SUNY/CUNY capital projects, money that is controlled by the budget director and the president of the Senate. A report from the NYS Comptroller says "This method of budgeting makes it hard for taxpayers to know how their money is being spent..."
There is also the Community Projects Fund -- 87.3 million dollars. There are accounts within that fund for the Governor, the Assembly majority and minority, and the Senate majority and minority. And there is the State and Municipalities Facilities Program - it doubled this year from 385 million dollars to 770 million dollars. There are no specifics on how it will be spent or who will receive it. A report from the Comptroller's office says it can now be used for a much broader range of capital projects.