The big $131 billion NY State budget may have finally passed, but its contents are still... unclear. The Post (naturally) offers criticism from the Republican minority: Senator Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn) says, "They haven't broken down where all the stimulus money is going. How do you vote on a budget that's not broken down and has only whole numbers? We asked for a breakdown and they told us [Friday] a list was forthcoming."
For instance, taxes and fees may result in an increase of $5.2 billion in the budget—or $8 billion, depending on how it's calculate—and Medicaid spending may increase 20%. However, the Budget office refuses to give confirm the numbers, at this point, because it's still "developing the final number on the increase to Medicaid costs." The full accounting of the budget is due within 30 days, according to the Budget Division. Government watchdog group, the Citizens Union, released a statement criticizing the process, "This year's state budget adoption process reached new lows of back-room politicking and closed-door negotiating, and was not only irresponsible, but more importantly an insult to New Yorkers."
The NY Times looks at how the $170 million in member-item—"annual legislative earmarks doled out by individual members for pet project"— spending is scattered throughout the budget and will now benefit many Democrats, since the Democrats seized power of the State Senate this past election year: "There is actually more than $170 million in this year’s budget, because the Legislature uses discretionary funds left over from previous years for items in this year’s budget as well. No public official could provide the total amount of member items in the budget — it is one of Albany’s mysteries."