Assemblyman Tom McKevitt (R,I,C-East Meadow) today called for the immediate overhaul of the member item process. McKevitt’s call for reforming the existing process comes after numerous incidents highlighted the need to improve oversight and provide increased transparency in the process.
“Member item grants are helpful in funding numerous community projects in a legislator’s district,” McKevitt said. “However, the member item process has become shrouded in controversy due to instances where the public trust has been violated. In order to reverse this frightening trend, both houses of the state legislature must act swiftly to restore confidence and integrity in the granting of member-items.”
Each year the state Legislature and the governor divide a specific amount of member-item allocation in the enacted state budget. Last year, each house of the Legislature received $85 million while the governor was allocated $30 million. However, major inequities in the process exist. Last year, Assembly majority members received $83 million of the Assembly’s $85 million allocation, or 97.6 percent of the total allocation.
In order to restore integrity and equity in the process McKevitt is presenting a “Member-Item Integrity” plan. The plan includes the following provisions:
- Detailed line-itemization of all member item grants in the state budget.
- Prohibit member item grants to organizations where the legislator or a senior staffer (individuals who earn over $75,000 annually), or an immediate family member of a legislator or senior staffer receives any compensation from the organization.
- Tougher sanctions and penalties against misallocation of funds and expedited means to recoup illegally disbursed funds.
- Annual review of all member items and report by administering agency counsel.
“The ‘Member-Item Integrity’ plan makes great strides in providing the highest standard of accountability when it comes to the awarding of member item grants,” McKevitt said. “It is a necessary step for both houses of the state Legislature to act in a bipartisan manner and enact these self-policing provisions to ensure New Yorkers’ tax dollars are spent properly.”