According to a report from state Comptroller DiNapoli’s office, spending by the state’s largest public authorities increased by 7% — $3.5 billion — from 2013 to 2014. The report cautions that public authorities are often used by the state for “backdoor” (non-voter approved) borrowing, noting that the last two state budgets saw some $650 million in budget relief by shifting costs to the MTA, the state Power Authority and other authorities

The report also criticized the Thruway Authority for not yet creating a task force to find ways to pay for a Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, which is expected to cost $3.9 billion.  Construction of the new bridge is well underway – it is expected to open in 2018 — but the Thruway Authority has not said how it will pay for the bridge, or determined what the tolls for the new bridge will be.

Comptroller DiNapoli said:

“Public authorities borrow and spend billions of dollars outside the state budget.  And from Buffalo to Brookhaven, New Yorkers foot the bill. These shadow governments are responsible for the bulk of our hefty debt burden and are used to provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually in non-recurring resources to support the state budget. Recent authority actions suggest that authorities must do more to open their doors to public accountability.”