The latest round of grants directed to pet projects by state lawmakers and the governor using money borrowed by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) without voter approval was posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website.
The data, detailing more than 600 grants issued since April 2022 totaling more than $230 million. The largest was $20 million steered by Governor Hochul to fund an expansion at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo. Other DASNY-funded projects included:
- $5 million for “skylights and mechanical equipment” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art;
- $5 million for “enhancements” at the American Museum of the Moving Image; and
- $3 million to restore the façade at Carnegie Hall.
The grants are not awarded on a competitive or transparent basis, and most are disbursed outside the normal budget process, meaning state lawmakers never vote on the individual recipients.
“Some of these grants appear to have allowed elected officials to act as though they themselves, rather than taxpayers, were supporting these institutions,” said Empire Center president & CEO Tim Hoefer. “Even if these projects warranted support from state taxpayers, they should be getting it through the state budget, not Albany’s secret credit card.”
The latest project list includes amenities such as skate parks, splash pads, pickleball courts, a planetarium, and at least one “sensory garden.”
The funds are being dished out through eight separate programs, some of which date back almost two decades, using borrowed funds, meaning state taxpayers will pay not only the cost plus but also the interest on DASNY-issued bonds.