The New York version of “to the victor go the spoils,” blatantly implemented through the Republican dominated NYS Senate for 40 years, abruptly ended with the emergence of a Democratic majority. One of the benefits of Democrats being in the majority is how community project funds, a.k.a. member items, are distributed.
Member item dollars distributed to the NYS Senate totaled $85 million a year for the past ten years. “Nine of those ten years, Democrats got about $8 million. This year, they got $76 million,” said Travis Proulx, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm Smith. Prior to this year, the exact reverse was status quo. During nine of the past ten years, Republicans divided $76 million among themselves, leaving $8 million for Democrats. According to Proulx, over the past 10 years, Republicans allocated a total of $692 million, while Democrats got $148 million.
Not surprisingly, Senate Republicans never saw a problem with the disparity – until this year. On June 8, as the Senate prepared to vote the Democrat dominated allocations into law, the now infamous surprise coup interrupted the process. For a month, all legislative votes were stalled. Once the Senate version of order was restored, a deal was negotiated that would allocated two thirds of member items to the majority party and a third to the minority. The deal will take effect not this year, but next.
Since Senate Democrats are clustered downstate, NYC is a major beneficiary of this year’s funding agreement. Central Brooklyn received a sizable chunk for programs serving a variety of needs. Community icons, such as Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., Medgar Evers College, Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, James E. Davis Stop the Violence Foundation, and Crown Heights Youth Collective are among the beneficiaries of the new Senate majority.
Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson led central Brooklyn with $3.04 million for service groups and special projects. Sampson funded $75,000 for a mobile science lab for a local public school; $150,000 for a litigation clinic at Albany Law School; and $95,000 for peer to peer recovery services at Paul J. Cooper center for Human Services.
Next is Velmanette Montgomery, with $3 million provided to worthy causes. The Center for Law and Social Justice received $150,000. The Brooklyn Public library got $100,000 for a youth internship program. Another $100,000 went to Long Island University for an after school program. Polytechnic Institute received $100,000 for a youth in engineering and science program.
Kevin Parker brought $2 million to his district. There is $75,000 for the Caribbean Women’s Health Association. $100,000 for the Flatbush YMCA. $100,000 for the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club. Another $100,000 for the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts. Neighborhood Housing Services of East Flatbush was given $100,000 for home ownership education and predatory lending counseling. $250,000 went to the NY Blood Center to purchase a mobile coach for blood donations and diversity outreach.
Eric Adams funded projects totaling $1.05 million. Youth America, Inc. received Adams’ largest allocation ($430,000), providing educational, anti-crime, and cultural programs for youth, young adult and seniors. $50,000 went to the East Flatbush Immigrant Assistance Center. Another $50,000 went to a financial assistance program in Crown Heights.
Numerous programs were allocated amounts ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. A wide variety of services are being funded, such as fatherhood initiatives, mental and physical health services, youth development programs, computing equipment, multi-lingual legal resource guides, precinct community councils. Central Brooklyn’s Senate representatives gave financial support to diverse ethnic, religious, cultural and community groups from the Irish, Jewish, Caribbean to tenant associations, blind and other disabilities, arts and athletics.
Central Brooklyn’s portion of senate member items total more than $9 million of the City’s share, just some of what NYC was deprived of during Republican domination of the Senate. For years, Mayor Bloomberg financially supported state Republicans. Published reports state Bloomberg has given $2 million to the NYS Republican party. He has supported Republican challengers to Democratic senate seats (including his own State Senator Liz Krueger). His efforts stalled the emergence of a Democrat majority in the Senate. But the day has come. NY’s Democratic Senate districts are better for it.