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Legislators seek oversight for public authority borrowing

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ALBANY – Responding to Monday’s warning by Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli that New York state has amassed roughly $63.3 billion in debt, Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said she is willing to work toward reining in aggressive spending by public authorities.

The state is capable of borrowing only an additional $509 million before it reaches a legislatively enacted debt ceiling that ties borrowing to 4 percent of personal income.

Mr. DiNapoli said 95 percent of the debt was accrued by public authorities during the last decade without the public’s approval. Public authorities have many responsibilities, such as the Thruway Authority, which maintains the state’s road system, the Associated Press reported.

“I think it’s something that we have to address in our budget,” Mrs. Russell said. “It is one of the reasons why I’ve supported these tough budgets.”

Mr. DiNapoli recommended the Legislature move to create laws that remove the ability of public authorities to borrow without public oversight.

“That’s something that I can support,” Mrs. Russell said.

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said she is going to wait to see what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposes in the executive budget before she discusses her opinions. She wants to see what the governor and the Assembly and Senate leadership work out.

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