Smith doles out $657,000

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State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), who led the borough's state Senate delegation in distributing $2.44 million in funds to nonprofits, doled out about 20 percent of that amount to organizations outside of Queens, state budget records showed.

Member items, also called discretionary funds, are allotted to legislators from a pot created in the state budget to be given out to nonprofits. Seniority and party affiliation affect how much money each senator receives.

"My allotment has increased yearly with the seniority I've gained every year," Maltese said. The state Senate is controlled by Republicans.

He conceded that his seat being targeted by Democrats was also a factor in the amount of funding he receives.

"There are people that pay close attention because they want me to return" to Albany, the senator said.

Nearly $489,000 was given by Maltese to groups beyond the borough's borders, an amount larger than the total funding received by four of Queens' seven senators.

But Maltese defended the allocations, explaining that the organizations benefit Queens residents, such as the New Jersey-based Kathy Tugaw Breast Cancer Foundation ($1,000), which holds runs in Juniper Park, and the Troy-based New York Theater Institute ($15,000), which the senator said puts on plays in the borough.

While Maltese gave the most money to organizations outside of Queens, state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), the Senate minority leader, gave a larger percentage of his funding to such groups.

About 40 percent of the $657,000 Smith received, or $267,000, went to organizations not based in the borough.

The amount to organizations outside of Queens included $100,000 to the Manhattan-based Community Arts Team of CUNY for arts and learning programs in public schools. He also gave $50,000 to the Albany-based Public Policy and Education Fund of New York to underwrite costs to educate state residents about health coverage and consumer rights.

Smith received the second-largest amount in the state among Democrats.

Maltese's largest allocation outside of Queens of $75,000 went to the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation, a statewide organization based in Albany, for "pre- and post-natal care to pregnant women, primarily those who are young and unwed and their children and families," according to budget documents.

Although based in Albany, Maltese said the organization reaches out to Queens residents.

He also gave $50,000 to Brooklyn's St. Francis College for a program that helps "under-represented populations who wish to pursue a career in a science or health-related field."

"Obviously, kids from Queens are going to go to Brooklyn for college," Maltese said, noting that many of his constituents go to the school.

Both Maltese and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), the borough's two Republican senators who face tough re-election opponents this year, have benefitted from being in the majority.

Padavan received $2.43 million in discretionary funds, trailing Maltese by fewer than $10,000.

All of Padavan's allocations were made to Queens organizations and included five amounts of $100,000 or more.

The largest allocation was $130,000 to the Bayside Historical Society for operating expenses and maintenance, followed by $115,000 to the Alley Pond Environmental Center for operational expenses and youth environmental education programs and $110,00 to the Queens Farm Museum in Floral Park for museum programs and other services.

Posted 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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