[See update at end of item.]
Buried in one of the nine state budget bills now pending in Albany is what looks like a $1 billion federal stimulus aid slush fund, which could be “suballocated” by the governor to “to any state department, agency or public authority” consistent with the purposes set forth by Congress in the stimulus law (officially entitled as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).
Below is a screen shot of the budget language in question, which can be found on page 319 of the hard copy of the Public Protection and General Government budget bill.
The first sentence of that paragraph is boilerplate emergency appropriations language found in previous New York State budget bills. However, the last two sentences are new and unusual.
In the absence of an updated financial plan to back up the budget bills, there has been no detailed accounting of how the agreed-upon package would distribute a reported $5 billion in federal stimulus aid over which state officials still have some discretion. However, in previous public statements and news releases, Governor Paterson and legislative leaders have announced they will use about $3.3 billion in stimulus money to (a) restore school aid; (b) undo some of Paterson’s proposed Medicaid “savings” actions, including the controversial proposal to tax sugared sodas; and (c) eliminate some of Paterson’s other proposed sales tax hikes.
That would seem to leave $1.7 billion in stimulus aid not specifically spoken for.
An official at DOB sends this response:
“The approp you are referencing is a contingency appropriation to ensure we are able to accept federal funding if we have not put in sufficient approp authority in every other place. As you note, it is in there every year, we are just reference ARRA in case more funding comes in that area.
“It is not a slush fund. There is no cash in there.”