Last Monday, the State Senate confirmed Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney as Chair of the state’s Thruway Authority.

The Thruway Authority is responsible for the state’s 570-mile superhighway system, one of the longest toll systems in the nation. The position is an unpaid one, and the authority is facing some significant fiscal challenges.  In December, its board approved a $1.7 billion budget for 2015 that includes a $25 million revenue shortfall.   The Authority is also replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge, an estimated $3.9 billion project, but has not indicated how it plans to pay for it.  As part of the recently-enacted state budget, Gov. Cuomo provided $1.3 billion to Authority to avoid toll hikes.

We congratulate Ms. Mahoney on her confirmation.  It is good to see an Upstater at the helm of an agency that is so important to the Upstate economy. We hope that she will be able to get the Thruway Authority’s finances back on track.

The Senate also approved Howard Zemsky to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development and President and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).  Mr. Zemsky previously served as the managing partner of Larkin Development Group, and also as co-Chair of the Western New York Regional Economic Council. There has been great progress in the Buffalo-area economy over the last four years, and with Mr. Zemsky leading the state’s economic development efforts, we are confident that this progress will continue.