New York State Comptroller Edward V. Regan said he is reviewing what steps can be taken to provide immediate public disclosure of borrowings done by state bonding authorities.
Regan, speaking on Monday at a luncheon address in Albany to representatives of small city school districts, said his office will now be "reviewing all proposed future borrowings with an eye toward slowing down the [borrowing] process -- providing it does not jeopardize vital state functions -- until borrowing reforms are in place," according to a press release from his office.
The comptroller has said that more public notice of these sales would force the state to cut back on its reliance on debt and improve the state's fiscal condition.
The review process is part of a wider campaign Regan has mounted to reform New York's long-term borrowing practices. Yesterday, Regan's aides would not give details on what steps would be taken to force state bonding authorities to provide more disclosure.
Cynthia Munk, a spokeswoman for the comptroller, said yesterday that she could not elaborate on how the comptroller plans to blunt those borrowings he finds objectionable. "Nothing has been announced yet," she said.
Claudia Hutton, a spokeswoman for the state Budget Division, when told about the comptroller's recent remarks, said, Regan is "pushing a personal agenda that has already cost New York as much as 130,000 jobs."
Hutton was referring to the comptroller's opposition to Gov. Mario M. Cuomo's $800 million jobs bond act, which was defeated by voters on Nov. 3. Regan opposed the measure on the grounds that state lawmakers must first adopt his fiscal reform package.
The comptroller's debt-reform package would limit the type of borrowings conducted by the state authorities. The package, which the comptroller will introduce during the coming legislative session, also calls for a 30-day waiting period before the authorities can issue non-tax supported debt. These bonds unlike tax-supported general obligation securities, do not need voter approval before they can be sold by the state.
Although the comptroller's office issues the state's general obligation bonds through competitive bids, it appears that the office does not have control over the sale of non-tax supported or appropriated state debt conducted by the most state bonding authorities other than scheduling sales.
And at the moment, the state has issued the lion's share of its debt through these authorities. Moody's Investors Service says the state has $17.5 billion outstanding in appropriated debt, compared with $5.8 billion of GO bonds. The state is rated A-minus by Standard & Poor's Corp., A by Moody's, and A-plus by Fitch Investors Service.
During the meeting at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, the Comptroller also announced several other measures to push his fiscal reform agenda, such as meetings with legislative majority leaders and "outside experts" to review the way the state issues long-term debt used to finance capital projects.
Spokesmen representing Senate Majority Leader Ralph Marino, R-Muttontown, and Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, D-Queens, did not comment on the comptroller's speech but said Regan's reform package would probably not garner much support from lawmakers.
Senate and Assembly leaders oppose the 30-day waiting period advocated by the comptroller on the grounds that it would not provide lawmakers with enough time to debate a budget after it is submitted by the governor in late January.
Charles Carrier, a spokesman for the state Assembly, said the state budget and its borrowing plans for the coming year would have to be finalized no later than March 1, if the comptroller's plan becomes law. That's because all future borrowings would require a 30-day waiting period before they become effective at the start of the following fiscal year, which begins April 1, he said.