March 1, 2005

New York State debt, 1990 to 2005 and beyond

I mentioned New York's debt and opaque process in a piece last week about the challenges New York is facing, spurred on by low attendance at Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton's Town Hall in Dryden. The New York Times reinforces some of those concerns and eases others in an editorial Sunday that's more optimistic about communications in Albany, and notes that one of those improvements involves disclosure of the state's debt:

[New York State Comptroller] Hevesi has opened a view of fiscal territory long closed to most New York voters. In a detailed report earlier this month, his office revealed that New York's debt had grown over the last 15 years from $14.4 billion to an estimated $49 billion. Until now, it has been almost impossible to calculate the size of the state debt because a lot of it is hidden in Albany's phantom government - the many authorities that are partly private and partly public.

Mr. Hevesi's report also underlined the difference between good and bad borrowing. It is reasonable to borrow for long-term capital improvements, for schools and other public structures. It is terrible fiscal policy to borrow for annual operating expenses, which is what the state did last year. Thanks to the new transparency in Albany, the public should now be able to see more easily which is which.

Debt is up, and revenue sharing with local governments is down, especially sharing with towns and villages. Counties briefly received revenue sharing to help with the costs of Family Health plus, but that disappeared in 2003.

Posted by simon at March 1, 2005 8:50 AM in
Note on photos