Capital New York:
New York’s largest public authorities have increased their spending by $3.5 billion since 2013 and their combined debt has grown to more than a quarter of a trillion dollars, according to a new report released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
DiNapoli’s report found that 95 percent of the state’s public debt has been issued by public authorities, much of it through debt issued without ever being approved by voters—a process critics have dubbed “backdoor borrowing."
And the cost increases at state authorities, whose spending isn’t accounted for in the state’s budget, are being used to disguise hundreds of millions of dollars in extra state spending, DiNapoli's report shows.
The 1,180 state and local authorities employ 153,578 people, costing the state $10 billion a year in personnel charges and salaries, with nearly 13 percent of those employees earning more than $100,000 annually. By contrast, less than 8.7 percent of state employees, and 14.7 percent of New York residents earn that much.
But the authorities’ spending is also subject to fewer oversight and accountability measures, despite repeated audits showing failures among authorities to adhere to contracting rules and rein in improper spending.