The state Authorities Budget Office has published its annual review of 500-plus state authorities, and with it a now-familiar criticism of the way some authorities thumb their noses at the ABO, ignoring regulations that govern them.
Many of the entities exist to spend or manage money or boost economic development, and a huge amount of money is involved: Operating expenses for the 47 state and 531 local authorities totaled just under $52 billion in 2016, and their combined debt was nearly $270 billion.
These numbers are heavily skewed by massive agencies in Albany (the Dormitory Authority manages $47 billion in debt) and the New York City area (the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had $16 billion in operating expenses in 2016). By comparison, the Saratoga County IDA’s 2016 budget was in the $200,000 range, and the Fulton County IDA manages about $3.84 million in debt.
ABO Director Jeffrey Pearlman gives his opinion of the situation in the first two sentences of an introduction to the report:
“Public authorities play a tremendous role in government. However, for too long they have operated with limited oversight and often have amassed crippling debt that has threatened the stability of our state and local economies.”
The report also repeats the frustration voiced previously by the ABO: That some regulated authorities don’t comply with all the rules that apply to them or with the ABO’s efforts to check whether they are following those rules.
“Over the past 11 years in conducting compliance reviews, investigations, quality assurance of reporting and responding to inquiries, an…
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