NYTimes piece this morning (by Michael Cooper) about how New York State spends millions of dollars on pork-barrel spending but doesn’t actually itemize it anywhere. (Free subscription required.) Turns out that the state budget includes one line — $200 million for "Community Projects Fund-007" — that the governor and legislative leaders can disburse without fear of discovery or veto.
Whether or not this leads to abuse, I suppose, depends on your definition of "abuse." But the feeling seems pretty universal that it’s a pretty sketchy practice:
"It’s bad government, because the grants are not based on any known criteria," said Edmund J. McMahon, the executive director of the Empire Center. "There are no performance guidelines, there is no application process, and at the end, we don’t even know if the money was spent on what it was supposed to be spent."
Mr. McMahon noted that while members of Congress are debating whether their process for funneling money to pet projects, known as earmarking, is open enough, the federal government at least requires disclosure of each project in Congressional reports that accompany legislation. In Albany, by contrast, the member items are kept secret. The Empire Center’s lists, released by the state, do not say exactly what the money is for or even which official requested it.
A couple of groups have managed to tease out where the money — borrowed money, by the way — has gone.