Tuesday, December 7th 2010, 4:00 AM
State budget director Robert Megna approved the spending spree Nov. 30, just after Paterson ripped lawmakers for failing to close a $315 million budget gap.
“It’s pretty par for the course for this governor – do as I say, not as I do,” scoffed Assemblyman Micah Kellner (D-Manhattan).
Even though Paterson was happy to play Santa for the Super Bowl, lawmakers say he’s a Scrooge for vetoing many of their own pet spending projects.
“He’s the guy who’s been speaking out of both sides of his mouth since he got into the office,” Kellner said.
Paterson’s football cash was earmarked to help the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl XLVIII Host Committee Inc. promote the region’s “unique entertainment, promotional and financial opportunities.”
The money also will be used to attract and retain businesses and for advertising, marketing and tourism, budget documents show.
The pigskin payout was just the tip of the iceberg.
Paterson gave $250,000 to the Achilles Track Club, a New York City group that helps the disabled get involved with long-distance running.
An additional half-million dollars was approved for Chess in Schools, which uses the board game as a teaching tool.
The governor’s pork spending, first reported in the Times Union in Albany, prompted the state’s largest public employees union to call on Paterson to rescind the nearly 900 pink slips he’s planning on sending out.
“The problem with member items is that they’re highly symbolic of the lack of discipline in Albany,” she said.
Paterson budget spokesman Erik Kriss insisted the governor’s late pork binge will not impact current or future state budget deficits.
The money, Kriss said, came from an discretionary account set aside for the governor in 2008-09 shortly after Paterson took office – and had been untouched until now.
Administration officials contended that most governors were given $30 million to spend a year – and that Paterson is spending significantly less since “sounding the alarm about the coming fiscal crisis.”