The Assembly paid $1.1 million to 130 members for costs related to “legislative duties” performed in Albany between April and September 2014, according to data posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website. The data was released more than eight months after the end of the reporting period, an unusually long delay.
Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj of the Bronx collected the most in Albany legislative duty reimbursements, receiving $17,940 in the six-month period. Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper of Nassau County was reimbursed $14,135, the second most. The reimbursements include travel to and from Albany as well as “per diem” payments for food and lodging. The Assembly members who claimed them are listed here with the amounts collected.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to wait eight months to see how their legislators are spending their money,” said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center. “The Legislature spends more than $200 million a year. The public has a right to expect timely quarterly, if not realtime, reports that explain where their money is going.”
“The $1 million added cost of keeping lawmakers in Albany,” Hoefer added, “is a reminder that New York would be better off with a shorter legislative session.”
The data also show that former Assemblyman William Boyland, who was expelled from the Assembly in March 2014 following his conviction on corruption charges, is credited with a “check returned” to the Assembly for $1,192. Prior to his departure, Boyland was cited for his abuse of the Assembly’s per diem system.
The Empire Center is a non-partisan, non-profit independent think tank based in Albany. In addition to maximum pension allowances for public-sector retirees, SeeThroughNY includes salaries for all state and local government employees, including those working in public authorities; detailed expenditure data for the state Legislature; comparative statistics on local government spending; a searchable database of state revenue and expenditures; and copies of all teacher union contracts and superintendent of schools contracts.
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