Created: 01/16/2014 7:08 PM WHEC.com
What if we told you $14 million in taxpayer money is not being used at all. That's what the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is saying in a new report. What makes it even worse is that money is supposed to be going to worthy causes.
Tax season is right around the corner and this money is coming from income tax check offs. When you have the option of supporting programs, like fish and wildlife or health related causes, millions of dollars have not been distributed at all and the state comptroller's office says that needs to change.
There are a total of six check off funds, almost all of them are health related. Twelve million dollars were donated within the last five years and only 43 percent was used. There has been no spending when it comes to the volunteer firefighters and EMS fund. There is $500,000 in there. But it's really the prostate cancer fund that's alarming, with almost three million dollars not being used at all.
The comptroller's office says the organization that handles the money for prostate cancer is having operational issues and that's why the money is being held up. News10NBC spoke to a local non profit that promotes prostate cancer education and support. Officials there say that money could be used for testing strips and support groups. They say it's unfair to the cancer victims and the taxpayers.
Patrick Fisher, US Too Rochester, NY Program Manager, said, “The people that checked that little box and made this money available, they did it with cause. They did it because they probably know somebody that was affected with prostate cancer and they did it with good heart. They intended that money to go to help people survive. It's a shame to know that money is just sitting there and it never reached the destination that those contributors and donors thought it would.”
The state comptroller's office has come up with recommendations for the governor and state legislatures that can help improve this issue. He is hoping to revamp the law by creating a new process and finding ways to distribute the money quicker. There are a few lawmakers that have already filed for legislation on this. They are hoping to change the organization that is holding this money and have the funds released some time this year.