Albany, NY — Spending by state lawmakers on office personnel and administrative costs varies widely, with some paying out nearly twice as much as others on their office operations, according to the most recent reported legislative expenditure data, which is posted to SeeThroughNY.net.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins’s office spent $1,110,086, the highest of any senate office during the one year period that ended last September 30th. In comparison, Senator James Tedisco, a minority member, spent the least among upper house members, at $556,980.
State lawmakers spent a total of $211,238,315 on legislative operations in the year from October 2020 to September 2021. These findings come on the heels of the 2023 budget deal, the largest in state history at $220.5 billion.
The deal increases the Legislature’s budget by $9 million, or four percent, to $232.8 million. Of that sum, $124 million will go to the Assembly and $108 million to the Senate.
But those dollars aren’t doled out evenly among houses, parties, or even among members of the same party serving in the same house, as evidenced by the newly released expenditure data, which reveals:
- The highest-spending individual lawmaker offices in both the Senate and Assembly were overwhelmingly those of Majority party members. The 33 Senate offices that spent most were Democrats, as were the 76 Assembly offices that spent most.
- The Senate Majority’s total leadership office expenses (communications, counsel, and operations) were almost double that of the Senate Minority’s — $7.1 million versus $3.7 million.
- Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s leadership office spent $1,078,130. Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay’s two leadership offices listed spent a combined $759,535. Heastie spent $560,842 on his personal office and Barclay spent $348,313.
- In the Senate, aside from Stewart-Cousins, Senator Liz Krueger, chair of the finance committee, spent most, at $1,050,636. Among the Senate majority, Senator Brian Kavanagh spent least, at $597,904.
- Among Senate Republicans, Senator Andrew Lanza, Deputy Minority Leader, spent the most, at $781,488, while Senator James Tedisco spent the least, at $556,979.
- In the Assembly, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chair of the Health Committee and the longest-tenured member of the Legislature, spent most on his personal office, at $918,385. Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, chair of the ways and means committee, spent least among Democrat majority members, at $263,121.
- Barclay’s personal office expenditure was highest among Assembly Republicans. Assemblyman Joseph Giglio spent least among members of the minority, at $236,440.
Other data points:
- The Assembly Ways and Means Committee spent more than $5.2 million. The Senate Finance Committee’s majority office spent $2 million, and its minority office spent $858,697.
- The Legislature spent $1.67 million on travel for legislative duties, primarily back and forth to Albany. Assembly members spent a combined $1 million on travel, and Senators spent $670,000.
- Assembly Speaker Heastie spent the most on travel at $27,890, followed by Assembly members Andy Goodell of Western New York and Clyde Vanel of New York City, who spent $24,966 and $22,663 respectively.
- The Assembly’s legislative task force on reapportionment spent $965,378. The Senate task force on reapportionment spent $247,979.
- The Independent Redistricting Commission spent $444,676.
A categorial breakdown of reported expenditures for each legislative office can be found on SeeThroughNY.net here.
Note: The Legislature reports its expenses in two semi-annual reports (October through March, and April through September) that align with the state’s fiscal year (April through March) but do not align with legislative terms or the session calendar (January through December).
The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.