Saturday, June 05, 2010

That new office to monitor public authorities? Hamstrung by funding shortfall

Remember the big battle last year to get the state legislature to reform the state's myriad public authorities?

In Manhattan Media's The Capitol newspaper, a 5/10/10 article headlined New Authorities Budget Office Could Be Swept Away By Lack Of Funding explains:
When Gov. David Paterson signed a bill last December to regulate the state’s 700-plus public authorities, the legislation was hailed as one of Albany’s most significant reforms in decades—the beginning of the end for the state’s “Soviet-style bureaucracies” that have amassed $45 billion in public debt.

The centerpiece of the dense 25-page bill was the creation of the Independent Authorities Budget Office, which replaced a similarly named office that had existed with limited scope and responsibility since 2006. The new office was given a host of new powers—such as the ability to issue subpoenas and remove authorities’ board member. It also was given a number of responsibilities, including the ability to audit authorities for potential financial abuses, oversight of new lobbying regulations for authority board members and regulation of the sale of authority land, among others.

But the office appears to have so far fallen victim to the same budget woes that it was supposed to help alleviate.
The office had seven employees before the law took effect March 1, and is supposed to go to 11 under Gov. David Paterson's budget, even though, when the bill was "first being seriously considered," it was supposed to have at least 25.

So here's where they're at:
With its resources limited, the office had not launched a new review of any public authority’s operations since the law was passed in March, said the office’s director, David Kidera.

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