The New York Constitution prohibits pork-barrel spending and corporate welfare: government money for private projects. Here’s what the clause says:
[T]he money of the state shall not be given or loaned to or in aid of any private corporation or association, or private undertaking.
Couldn’t be clearer, right?
Wrong. The state supreme court today ruled – in a split decision – that this constitutional provision is unenforceable. The state can give money to whomever it wants so long as it is not “patently illegal” to do so.
In dissent, Judge Robert Smith wrote:
I have defended before, and will no doubt defend again, the right of elected legislators to commit folly if they choose. But when our Legislature commits the precise folly that a provision of our Constitution was written to prevent, and this court responds by judicially repealing the constitutional provision, I think I am entitled to be annoyed.