Old but New Furniture
Albany lawmakers used $1.9 million in taxpayer money to splurge on new furniture for their State Capitol offices this year — and spent another $850, 000 on printing equipment to produce their glossy mailers.
The Senate replaced their old but usable furnishings with new wooden tables, bookshelves, and plush leather couches and chairs in all 63 members’ offices and conference rooms — about $30, 000 per pol, according to expenditure reports analyzed by the Empire Center.
The spending included $74, 000 in couches and loveseats from La-Z-Boy.
The Assembly dropped a bundle on printing equipment from German-based Heidelberg, records show. The cutting-edge printer produces
the mailers lawmakers send to constituents about legislative accomplishments, sources said.
Movers brought the new furnishings to offices in the Legislative Office Building at the beginning of the year and hauled the old stuff to the Veterans Miracle Center, an Albany nonprofit.
Staff there believe senators first grabbed the best of the used furniture for offices in their home districts. Images of the items were far nicer than what the organization received.
“When we started getting some of it in, some of it looked a little rough, ” said Veterans Miracle Center general manager Jim Pratt.
“You know the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words? Not true.”
The nonprofit said it received more than 500 pieces, including 150 bookshelves, 150 desks, 50 credenzas, 20 conference tables, 20 couches, and hundreds of smaller tables. So far they have distributed 200 items to American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War posts, and other groups in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan alerted senators last October he would be giving their offices a makeover because he said their furniture was 50 years old, mismatched and outdated, according to a State of Politics report.
“There comes a point when it is more expensive to repair or re-upholster items then it is to replace them, ” he said at the time.
“We don’t control that stuff, ” one legislative staffer said. “When they delivered one of our senators a new desk, that senator didn’t have a say. They had a new desk.”
But the old furniture “just needed to be cleaned and refinished, ” said one good-government analyst.
The Senate is currently operating “millions of dollars under budget, ” according to Senate spokesman Scott Reif.
View of warehouse full of old office furniture donated to the Veterans Miracle Center from New York State Senate members offices.