A study published last week by the Albany Times Union showed what I had long suspected: Our Upstate region would suffer when Downstate leaders took the helm in Albany. A Times Union analysis of combined Senate and Assembly spending found Upstate will lose nearly $26 million in discretionary legislative grants, with nearly all the money, instead, headed to New York City. With this news, the need for reform is greater now than ever.
According to the analysis, Upstate legislative grant spending is down 36.1 %, while downstate spending is up 33.9 %. New York City legislative grant money is up 72 %. And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to discern how decisions were made as to where or how the money was spent. For example, the money, more than $148 million, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t being distributed according to population. Rather, per capita spending in Upstate was at 6.26, while DownstateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s per capita spending in New York City was calculated at 10.33.
There should be a more equitable means to distribute legislative grants so that our region does not continue to be penalized for where are state leaders are geographically vested. There are many projects our region could have benefitted from this year if some of those legislative grants were distributed more equitably.
Legislative grants have historically benefitted our region. Investing in our local Industrial Development offices, updating infrastructure and fueling tourism are just three areas our region has benefitted from in the past through legislative grants. In the past, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been able to secure funding for libraries, tourism events such as the Carp Tournament which brings in thousands of visitors from around the world, health clinics at Rural and Migrant Ministries, American Red Cross facilities, a VeteranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Van which brings veterans to and from doctorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ appointments, and ongoing science-based studies at Baltimore Woods which teach children. Many times, community organizations and outreach efforts seek legislative grants because there are no other grants they are eligible for within the state.
Unfortunately, in this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s budget, our state tax dollars have simply been collected and redistributed to New York City, as Downstate leaders hold the reins. This type of abrupt change in paradigm of power hurts our region. Our state would benefit from a more equitable distribution of these moniesÃ¢â‚¬â€just one more reason reform measures need to be instituted before more money is mismanaged.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.