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Some say new Surface Pro tablets for NY State Assembly are wasteful

January 27, 2017 07:24 PM

ALBANY -- The new tablets look sleek. They also come complete with a protective cover and loaded software. All 150 assembly members have one at their disposal. But not everyone picked one up.

"It's not something that I was aware of or requested. It's nothing that I'm taking," said Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston.

Walsh said the tablets cost the assembly a little more than $900 apiece. That's more than $140,000 altogether. It's the kind of taxpayer dollars Walsh said should be spent elsewhere.

"There are needs and there are wants right. I don't think it was a need that I had," Walsh told Newschannel 13. "I'm just going to go ahead and use my own equipment that I paid for. I just feel like that's fair. It's fair to the taxpayers."

But Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, D-Albany, said the tablets are part of a larger effort to modernize and streamline assembly operations. It's a perk she believes will make the assembly chamber more productive.

"It's an extra tool. I think it will be helpful and it certainly does cut down on the paperwork," Fahy said.

The effort to cut down paperwork started two years ago when the assembly installed tablets at each member's desks. Bills could be viewed electronically instead of stacks of printed legislation. But those tablets are tethered to the chamber. Fahy said the new ones will give members more accessibility to emails, bills and memos wherever they are.

"We're kind of just at the beginning of this. It will allow us to share more budget documents, more co-sponsor memos and committee information as well," she said.

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Dan Bazile

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