New York state lawmakers and Governor Hochul since January have steered nearly $200 million in borrowed state funds outside the regular budget process to hundreds of pet projects, according to new data posted on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website.

The 359 projects, totaling $191 million, were financed through the state Dormitory Authority, which issues bonds and steers funds to projects selected by individual lawmakers or the governor. The new list includes:

  • $1 million to restore a theater on Staten Island; 
  • $750,000 for the town of Southampton to buy a $14 million property on which author John Steinbeck lived part-time in his final years; 
  • $145,000 for a “mobile gaming trailer” and tow vehicle for the Rochester Police Department; 
  • $125,000 for an indoor skateboard park in the city of Albany; 
  • $125,000 to erect a statue in the city of Schenectady; 
  • $125,000 to construct a bowling alley in the North Country town of Chateaugay (population: 1,710); and 
  • $50,000 to build a “low-income spay/neuter clinic” in the Mohawk Valley city of Amsterdam.

“These are projects that could be funded by local taxpayers but instead get charged on the state’s credit card outside public view,” said Tim Hoefer, president and CEO of the Empire Center. “Almost $6 billion has gone out the door so far—that’s about $300 plus interest for every New Yorker. It’s the worst possible way to spend money.”

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