New York Services for AIDS, Elderly, Poor Threatened by State Budget Dispute, Not-for-Profit Coalition Says
Some programs for people with HIV/AIDS, prison inmates, the elderly and the poor in New York are being threatened because Gov. George Pataki (R) has not released funding from the current state budget, advocates from a coalition of New York not-for-profit groups said on Tuesday, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. The funding is part of $200 million in so-called "pork-barrel" spending in the $93 billion 2003-2004 budget, the advocates said. Although some of the $200 million goes to the not-for-profit groups, some of the money goes to support popular local projects, youth leagues and civic groups. In May, the Legislature passed the state budget despite Pataki's objections, and it later overrode his 119 vetoes to enact the budget. Pataki has said that much of the Legislature's budget is unconstitutional because it tries to weaken the spending authority of the governor. The state Senate later approved "clean-up" legislation, which Pataki said was necessary before he could constitutionally release the funds, according to the AP/Newsday. The Assembly has refused to pass the same bill and has said that it has no plans to reconsider the measure.
Funding Running Out
The not-for-profit coalition said that many of their groups will be forced to suspend or discontinue services within weeks unless an agreement is reached. "The Legislature acted twice to ensure this funding, first by passing a bipartisan, balanced constitutional fiscal plan and second by overriding the governor's veto," Sisa Moyo, spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D), said. However, Andrew Rush of Pataki's budget office said that "New Yorkers know no governor has worked harder to fight AIDS. ... This is simply political grandstanding to cover up for a complete failure by the Assembly's Democratic majority" (Gormley, AP/Long Island Newsday, 9/9). Silver yesterday said that he and Pataki are having "meaningful discussions toward coming to a resolution" (Gormley, Associated Press, 9/10).