Assemblyman James Tedisco is not bringing home the bacon this year, one of only a handful of state legislators to refuse the annual pork-barrel allocations, state records show.
Tedisco, R-Glenville, decided in January that he was not going to accept any member items for the 110th Assembly District, which covers parts of Schenectady and Saratoga counties, said spokesman Greg Amorosi.
“He asked that he not receive the items. With the deficit and everything being what it was, he did not feel it right to take the money. He made it clear it was a personal decision for members, and he decided not to take any member items,” Amorosi said.
Tedisco’s decision occurred in January, Amorosi said, around the time he decided to run for the 20th Congressional District seat. He lost by approximately 700 votes to Democrat Scott Murphy in an expensive and bitterly fought contest.
In April, Tedisco stepped down as leader of the Republican caucus in the Assembly rather than face a vote of no confidence. Several days later, the caucus selected Brian Kolb of Canandaigua as its leader.
Kolb spokesman Josh Fitzpatrick said Tedisco was solely responsible for accepting or not accepting member items. “These were put in while Tedisco was leader,” Fitzpatrick said.
Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, said legislators have until late March to file member item requests before the budget bills come out. The requests are included in the state budget, which must be adopted by April 1.
Amorosi said Tedisco was “very much in charge” during this period as leader. Tedisco is now assistant whip in the Assembly.
Amorosi said Tedisco had 75 funding requests for the 2009-10 budget. As leader of the minority caucus at the time, he had the most money to allocate to various groups, organizations and agencies in his district.
Last year, Tedisco distributed more than $400,000 to 55 groups in his district through member items. He has been in the Assembly for nearly 28 years.
In total, Assembly members are sending $85 million in pork-barrel spending this year to more than 4,000 programs, agencies and charities in their home districts. The state Senate has $85 million as well. Gov. David Paterson refused to take his $30 million share this year.
Amedore said he distributed $110,000 in member items this year. He had requests totaling $500,000, he said. Last year, he distributed $100,000 in his district, the 105th.
“Organizations send in their requests all year round,” Amedore said. “If I could help out everyone, I would, but I only get so much money. I have to make a decision based on the best rate of return.”
Amedore said he may have gotten requests from the same organizations that asked Tedisco for money. “Organizations make multiple requests to multiple legislators,” he said.