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41° Good Afternoon

Governor should kill these spending moves

Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, watches a presentation

Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, watches a presentation during a higher education budget hearing in Albany. (Jan. 24, 2012) Credit: AP

The final frenzied days of budget-making in New York State are rich with opportunity for those practiced in the dark arts. Money morphs and moves in mysterious ways in those witching hours. It can take days to discover the extent of magical mischief. The budget vetoes unveiled this week by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo show that this year was no different.

Among the 184 items vetoed by Cuomo were two appropriations totaling $24.2 million for Stony Brook University. The money has been in the budget since 2008-09 for a "computational biomedicine visualization and drug development magnet facility." But the State Senate slipped a new use for the money into the budget approved two weeks ago. It allocated $22.2 million for locker-room facilities and stadium improvements -- at the stadium named for State Sen. Kenneth P. LaValle. The other $2 million was reallocated for what was termed a practice facility and exam center.

LaValle has been a stalwart advocate for Stony Brook, hence the dubious naming of the stadium. But the utter lack of transparency here is bad government. Stony Brook's sports facilities might need upgrading, but not via subterfuge. Cuomo called the re-appropriation unconstitutional in the way it changed the purpose of the funding.

Now we wish he would kill another LaValle move authorized in the budget -- language that calls for the Long Island Power Authority to study the feasibility of repowering aging plants in Northport, Island Park and Port Jefferson, LaValle's home turf. This was studied in 2009. PSEG Long Island has said the region needs no new power sources until 2024. Worse, the unnecessary study's cost will be borne directly by Long Island ratepayers. It should be axed. Otherwise, we might end up with the Kenneth P. LaValle Power Plant.