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New York's public authorities have $13,487 debt for every state resident

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York State's public authorities including the Dormitory Authority, the Empire State Development Corp and the Thruway Authority have $267 billion of total debt outstanding, or $13,487 for every resident, the state's chief fiscal officer said in a report on Thursday.

The authorities are not subject to the same oversight, transparency and contracting rules as other government bodies. Yet New York is relying on them more often as a way to bypass a state requirement that some borrowing must be approved by voters, a report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

"New York's public authorities play an increasingly influential role in government yet they operate outside the traditional checks and balances that apply to state agencies," DiNapoli said. "As a result, New York is shouldering a huge debt load issued by public entities operating in the shadows that voters never approved."

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Most such authorities do not have taxing power and repay their debt using revenue generated from projects they oversee, including tolls on roads.

As of September 2016, New York had 1,192 public authorities, including 324 state-level authorities and subsidiaries, 860 local authorities and eight interstate or international authorities, DiNapoli's report said.

More than a fifth of the total outstanding debt was "backdoor borrowing," when authorities issued debt that was actually for state purposes, according to the report.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by David Gregorio)

 
 
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