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The Brunomobile and Other Tales of Thrift

How did I miss this piece from Wednesday’s New York Times, tracking the perks and pork enjoyed by the deposed Republican majority in the New York State Senate:

They recently realized there are some 75 employees working at the Senate’s own printing plant, a plain brick building on the outskirts of Albany. On Long Island, they found a small television studio, which had been set up — all with public money, with two press aides on hand to help operate it — for the exclusive use of Republican senators to record cable TV shows.

Democrats also came across what they are calling the “Brunomobile,” a $50,000 specially outfitted GMC van, with six leather captain’s chairs (some swiveling), a navigation system, rearview camera and meeting table. Joseph L. Bruno, the former Senate majority leader who was recently indicted on corruption charges, traveled in the van after his use of state helicopters sparked a feud with the Spitzer administration.

The Brunomobile

The Brunomobile

Then there are the parking spots, always at a premium near the Capitol. Democrats had been given roughly one spot per senator — there were 30 Democrats last year — and guessed there were perhaps double or even triple that controlled by the majority. Instead, they have learned, there are more than 800.

And Democratic leaders must determine what to do about 45 workers toiling away in a building close to the Capitol who appear to have been engaged in quasi-political research for the Republicans.

But wait. There’s more:

Republicans have long defended their spending as the prerogative of the majority party, and also characterize as absurd the claim that they have been uncooperative — a smokescreen to hide that Democrats are now giving Republicans fewer resources than Democrats had received when they were in the minority. Indeed, Mr. Smith, while increasing the allotment for individual senators, is cutting the minority’s central staff budget to about $3 million from $7 million, after promising to put the minority party on more equal footing.

“That effectively neuters our ability to function as an opposition,” said Dean G. Skelos, a Long Island Republican and the new minority leader. Still, many in the capital are tittering at the howls of anguish from the Republicans, who for so long gleefully starved the Democrats, and were known for paying their top staffers even more than the governor’s $179,000 salary.