Well, that was fast: Robert Mujica, the state budget director, reached out Friday to clarify that the pork-barrel spending discussed in that morning’s editorial (“Cuomo’s Shameful Top Priority”) will not be going out the door this year after all.
More, he has instructed the Dormitory Authority, through which some of New York’s most egregious pork outlays flow, not to enter into contracts without explicit approval from the Division of the Budget.
The Empire Center first reported Tuesday that grants — 226 of them, totaling $46 million, to recipients selected by the governor and individual state lawmakers — seemed to still be going ahead.
That info was shocking, because the state has quite properly withheld $4 billion in non-pork funds for local governments to balance its pandemic-devastated books. But we relayed the news without confirming with Mujica’s office, which had not commented publicly on the Empire release.
Now the budget director tells us that he has not given the final OK for those spending commitments, and it “absolutely will not happen this year.”
That news may disappoint the state lawmakers whose pet projects are now on hold — some of whom, like state Sen. Pete Harckham, have already announced the outlays in recent weeks. But it’s at least a small win for the taxpayers and for more-deserving beneficiaries of state spending.