Last week, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli issued a report on state and local public authority debt, which now totals nearly $250 billion. His report notes that the state routinely relies on public authorities to undertake borrowing on its behalf, and regularly uses authority resources to fill state budget gaps.
New York has 1,169 public authorities, including 324 state authorities and their subsidiaries, 837 local authorities, and eight interstate or international authorities. They employed more than 150,000 people and pay nearly $10 billion in annual compensation.
We’ve long talked about the need to get the state’s debt under control. But these entities – sometimes referred to as the state’s “shadow government” – have taken borrowing to a whole new level.
In 2004, according to the Comptroller, total public authority debt was $140 billion. And now it’s approaching $250 million. That’s a 64% increase in just the last nine years. We need to get a handle on this, before it’s too late.