The group redrawing the state’s Senate, Assembly and congressional districts will at last receive $1 million lawmakers allocated for the work in previous state budgets, officials said, after potentially unconstitutional funding delays set the commission back several months in completing the mandated elective maps.
Reapportionment of the Legislature’s 63 Senate and 150 Assembly districts occurs every decade following the U.S. Census. The setback could have been avoided if the state ponied up for the 10-member Independent Redistricting Commission after months of delays caused by New York’s mounting $15 billion revenue shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have determined a mechanism for getting the funding to the commission so it can move forward with hiring staff and paying for supplies, and we are implementing it as quickly as possible,” state Division of the Budget spokesman Freeman Klopott said in a statement Thursday.
Unfortunately, Klopott did not specify when the commission will receive the $1 million, but reiterated “as quickly as possible.” That doesn’t cut it when public money is at issue and it doesn’t get it done when the question of transparency is raised.
Commission co-executive directors Karen Blatt and Douglas Breakell have asked Budget Division and State Department officials about the stalled funding for months, but officials have provided limited or no answers to their queries. That’s another strike against transparency. Blatt and Breakell have important work to do in a short time. So why the silence?
What is being called a mechanism is important for the commission’s budget. It’s good news to hear the Division of the Budget identified a mechanism. We would just like to know what the mechanism is going to be.