Gov. Andrew Cuomo is vetoing roughly 120 member item appropriations in this year’s budget, but defended the spending plan for allowing up to $38 million in cash to be applied against the old pork backlog.
Lawmakers make appropriations — promises to spend money on scoreboards for little leagues or vans for meals on wheels programs, say — like candy, but finding and devoting cash to back them up is a different matter. There’s currently a backlog of $230 million.
Cuomo explained that he’s targeting changes within the backlog, but let stand promises that were simply re-authorized.
“There’s a commonality: these are new member items to my definition,” he said at a firehouse in Middleburgh, announcing the state will shoulder the cost of flood recovery. “We have honored the past appropriations … I believe these are new.”
“This was a grant to the ABC community group, and they reprogram it to the DEF group. That, I believe is a new member item,” Cuomo explained. “An organization like the one we’re in today could have received a member item. I went through those as the attorney general, if I didn’t find a legal purpose the state flagged it at that time. But if the state made a commitment to an organization, or if there was a budget item allocation as part of a past budget deal, I understand that. I can’t go back, you know? I can only go forward, and what I said as governor is there will be no new member items, and I consider these new member items.”
The budget also contains $30 million in undelineated “bullet aid” for school districts, which is distributed at legislators’ discretion. This spending has also been derided as pork.