Reaction to Authorities Reform Deal
November 18th, 2009

There has been a lot of positive reaction to the deal on public authorities reform reached today between Gov. David Paterson and the legislature.

The legislation is designed to reign in public authorities such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Empire State Development Corp., which have developed a reputation for being corrupt and wasteful.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who took issue with the version of the bill that was passed by the Senate and Assembly earlier this year, praised the new agreement.

Our state representatives in Albany deserve a lot of credit for dramatically improving a Public Authorities reform bill that, as initially drafted, would have done more harm than good. We have always supported reform of the public authorities, but we had major concerns about the consequences the original bill would have produced. We said so, and Im grateful that the legislature and Governor listened and addressed the problems. Under the bill being passed today, rather than requiring authorities to sell land at fair market value no matter the use eliminating countless opportunities to create affordable housing, community centers and jobs the new bill takes into account an authoritys mission. And rather than requiring authority board members to act in the agencys narrowly defined goals without taking into account broader issues that may be important to City residents, the new bill allows them to exercise independent judgment while considering local interests. Thanks to these and other sensible revisions, the legislation passed today will improve oversight of authorities while still providing them with the flexibility needed to responsibly serve the people of New York City and State.

Bill Mahoney Gene Russianoff of the New York Public Interest Research Group’s Straphangers Campaign was even more delighted

“Hallelujah! Governor Paterson and the state Legislature have agreed upon sweeping legislation to make New York State’s powerful public authorities more open and accountable. NYPIRG congratulates the legislative sponsors — Assemblymember Richard Brodsky and Senator Bill Perkins for their many months working to come up with a bill that Governor Paterson can support. We congratulate the Assembly on passing this important reform, eagerly await the Senates prompt action on the bill and the Governors signature. We look forward to working with an Independent Authorities Budget Office to watchdog the activities of critical authorities like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. ”

Why is everyone so happy? Because the bill will:

  • Subject board members to oath of office or acknowledgment of fiduciary duty to the authority;
  • Dramatically expand the powers of the independent Authorities Budget Office (ABO) within the Department of State and make all ABO information available to the public;
  • Require authority boards to establish finance committees to review proposals for debt issuance by an authority and its subsidiaries and make recommendations;
  • Subject state and local authorities to additional reporting requirements, such as authority board performance evaluations;
  • Require certain appointments to be confirmed by the Senate for the Dormitory Authority (Executive Director), Thruway Authority (Executive Director), Power Authority (CEO) and Long Island Power Authority (CEO);
  • Give the State Comptroller the power to pre-approve state authority contracts valued at over $1 million that are not competitively bid and contracts that are paid with the state funds appropriated to the authority;
  • Establish rules governing and limiting the creation of subsidiary public corporations and authorities;
  • Authorize the disposition of property below market value when the transfer is to a government or public entity and the purpose of the transfer is within the mission of the authority;
  • Require state authority contracts to comply with the minority and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) statute;
  • Provide whistle-blower protection for employees of public authorities, to protect those individuals who report wrongdoing; and
  • Require debt limitation plans for each authority.

The only hitch is that Senate Democrats didn’t have enough members in town to pass the bill tonight. They are expected to try again tomorrow.

By on November 18, 2009, 8:35 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Reaction to Authorities Reform Deal

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