img_7049-e1438630466332-150x150-6368795The new state budget will fund a 35 percent expansion of a murky $1.1 billion pork-barrel slush fund controlled by Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers.

The Capital Projects appropriations budget bill adds $385 million to the State and Municipal Facilities Program (SMFP), which uses money borrowed through the Dormitory Authority to fund pet projects. The additional money was not included in the governor’s Executive Budget.

So, who insisted on adding to the fund—and why? As usual, there’s no answer, and no justification offered for one of many deals reached behind closed doors by Cuomo and legislative leaders. 

The SMFP was created in 2013 with a $385 million appropriation to support generic capital expenses of local governments and school districts. It has been expanded in every annual budget since then—appearing only in the final product. Along the way, the description of eligible purposes has been expanded to include “economic development” projects, provided that they “create or retain jobs.”  But there are no clear criteria for project selection, which appears to be shaped largely by political considerations.

Cuomo’s capital projects financing plan indicates that only $125 million has been spent out of SMFP to date. Among other things, those funds have been earmarked for an outlet mall on Staten Island, a hotel renovation in Syracuse, and overdue payments for the SolarCity factory construction in Buffalo.

Last summer, the Empire Center obtained a list of projects that had sought or received SMFP funding. That list can be searched in the pork database on

About the Author

Ken Girardin

Ken Girardin is the Empire Center’s Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Read more by Ken Girardin

You may also like

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

Health Research Inc. Turns Over its Payroll Records Despite Claiming To Be Exempt from FOIL

The full payroll records of more than 2,400 de facto state employees are available to the public for the first time after being released by Health Research Inc. Read More

Emergency Billions Pose Opportunity—and Risk—for NYS Schools

New York schools are to post publicly today plans for spending a huge pile of unexpected and unbudgeted cash. Read More

New York’s Medicaid Rolls Kept Pace with a Nationwide Surge During the Pandemic

New York's Medicaid and Child Health Plus programs added three-quarters of a million enrollees during the coronavirus pandemic, roughly matching the pace of a national surge in sign-ups. Read More

New York’s Medicaid and Public Health Crises Get Short Shrift in the New State Budget

In spite of an ongoing pandemic and spiraling Medicaid costs, New York's health-care system received surprisingly little attention in the new state budget. On issue after issue, law Read More

MTA: Overtime down, take our word for it

Every year for over a decade, the Empire Center has submitted Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the payrolls of MTA corporate subsidiaries. And in almost every one o Read More

Schumer’s First Spending Bill as Majority Leader Tailors Money for New York Medicaid

The pandemic relief bill includes a boost in Medicaid funding that appears to be tailor-made for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Read More

A Letter From Washington Shrinks New York’s Budget Gap by $2 Billion or More

In a letter to governors two days after President Biden's inauguration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that the pandemic-related federal public health emergency "will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021." Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!