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Legislators Should Focus On Families, Not The State Fair

Yesterday, we referred to a claim by Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, that a scholarship for children whose parents were killed serving in the military shouldn’t be expanded because the costs were unclear and the legislation came up after the state’s 2019-20 budget had already been finalized.

Consider that statement while thinking about the fact the state will spend a whopping $21 million on the state fair, an amount that includes a slate of musical performances that include Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil and the Dropkick Murphys, or a combined $16,933,500 in salary for the state Legislature, including pay raises approved by a commission last year. The legislature’s inaction on the issue was rendered obsolete last week when Gov. Andrew Cuomo found a way in existing state law to expand the scholarship program, but it’s pretty obvious that there was money available for the Gold Star scholarship program to be expanded.

Right on cue for this discussion of spending priorities came the Empire Center for New York Policy’s annual update of its online Spend-O-Meter. As of April 1, the Spend-O-Meter shows the state is spending at a rate equivalent to:

¯ $5,565 per second,

¯ $333,904 per minute,

¯ $480,821,971 per day,

¯ $3,375,000,000 per week, and

¯ $14,625,000,000 per month.

Wow.

No discussion of state spending, regardless of worthiness, should be done with the thought of just making the Spend-O-Meter spin faster. As we said yesterday, we think the Gold Star scholarship program deserved to be expanded to include children whose parents die in non-combat incidents like training accidents. Perhaps the state Legislature’s priorities should have focused more on doing the right thing for families who have been devastated by the loss of a service member instead of focusing on adding a ninth or 10th big-name band for the state fair or paying for legislative pay raises.

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