AP NEWS

Report: New York’s public authorities are piling up debt

December 22, 2019 GMT

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A report by New York lawmakers finds a lack of transparency and mounting debt among the state’s economic development entities.

The Albany Times-Union reports that the state’s public authorities have about $282 billion in outstanding debt — up 8% since 2014. Such authorities can issue bonds without voter approval, and fund infrastructure improvements that don’t get funding in the state budget.

The newspaper cites a report released this month by the state Senate’s Investigations and Government Operations Committee.

Democratic state Sen. James Skoufis said taxpayers deserve more accountability under a public authorities system dating back to the 1930s. A 1938 state provision allowed public authorities to incur debt independent of the state.

New York has 583 active public authorities, up nearly 300 since 2008. That includes the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which has increased spending by nearly $1 billion since 2014.

Skoufis is calling on lawmakers to boost funding for public authority regulators and give the state comptroller and local comptrollers more oversight over public authorities. He also says public authorities should disclose conflicts of interest online.