Lupardo: Assembly Passes Bill to Reform Public Authorities

The Assembly passed a measure Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) sponsored that will dramatically improve transparency and accountability for New York’s public authorities and public benefit corporations (A.5626).

"Scandals and fiscal mismanagement have cast a dark cloud over nearly 900 public authorities and subsidiary corporations that operate largely outside of public scrutiny," Lupardo said. "It’s time to shed some light on the way public authorities operate, and that’s exactly what this legislation does."

Lupardo said the need for greater oversight has been highlighted by numerous hearings conducted by the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions as well as several state Comptroller’s Office audits, which found fiscal discrepancies and mismanagement within the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Long Island Power Authority, the New York Power Authority, the New York Racing Association, the New York State Canal Corporation, the New York State Thruway Authority and others.

"Quasi-public authorities are enjoying the benefit of taxpayer funding with little of the oversight and accountability we demand from government," Lupardo said. "This measure will help ensure authorities are held accountable to the public they were created to serve."

The legislation would:

  • create a public authorities inspector general to make sure that authorities are given the kind of oversight they’ve been lacking;
  • create a public authorities independent budget office to review the budgets of the statewide and larger public authorities;
  • control public authority debt by placing controls and caps on spending;
  • restrict certain lobbying practices to ensure there is no undue or improper influence when it comes to awarding authority contracts or spending taxpayers’ money;
  • control the proliferation of public authority subsidiaries by requiring all new corporations to be approved by the Legislature;
  • require each authority to create a central procurement office to oversee procurement contracts; and
  • strengthen ethics rules for members of public authority governing boards.

"These reform measures will increase accountability, improve public authority operations and ultimately save tax dollars," Lupardo said. "The Assembly has taken the lead in bringing authorities out into the open. I urge the Senate and governor to join us in making these much-needed reforms a reality."

The legislation – supported by state Comptroller Alan Hevesi and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer – is part of a broad package of reforms the Assembly has advanced to improve New York State government.