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THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Accountability needed on New York's pandemic spending

State officials, led by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, are spending billions of dollars to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. That’s unavoidable, but it’s possible to do it in ways that are better or worse. They’re choosing worse by cloaking the spending in secrecy.

It will come back to bite them.

When that kind of money is in play, you can bet someone will figure out how to misuse it. That’s how the world is. And that nefarious work becomes easier when decisions are made without routine accountability.

At some point, any plundering of the public’s wallet will become known. Those in charge will be faulted, even if they share only a small part of the blame. The way to limit both the thieving and the ensuing fallout is to ensure that decisions are made in public.

That’s not happening. For one, the state Legislature has been missing in action since approving a new budget early last month. Only recently has it made noises about showing up for work. It needs to get busy.

For another, the Cuomo administration is laser focused on responding to the pandemic to the exclusion of informing the public about how it is spending that money.

At last report, Albany had spent at least $2.8 billion responding to the threat. Millions more in unanticipated spending is certain. It’s too much for secrecy.

This pandemic demands constant focus of the governor. Perhaps that’s why oversight has taken a back seat. Even if it’s understandable, though, it can’t continue.

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