New York State Supreme Court Judge Harold J. Hughes last week upheld state Comptroller Edward V. Regan's lawsuit challenging an authority bond sale designed to bring budget relief to the state in fiscal 1992.
In doing so, the judge thwarted Gov. Mario M. Cuomo's attempt to throw the case out by arguing that it had no merit or standing.
Mr. Regan said in a statement on Friday, "Judge Hughes' welcome decision upholding my legal right to challenge the use of Thruway Authority funds to help balance the state budget hopefully will clear the way for an expeditious court hearing on the merits of the case."
In early August, Mr. Regan's office filed a lawsuit to sue Gov. Cuomo and the state over an $80 million bond sale by the New York State Thruway Authority. Mr. Regan said the bond sale would open the door to a new generation of "fiscal gimmickry." The proceeds of the proposed bond issue would finance capital expenses now financed with toll revenues of the authority and allow the state to keep the toll revenues for its own budget.
The Cuomo administration has said that eliminating the bond deal would throw the state's budget out of balance for fiscal 1992, which began April 1. Mr. Regan's lawsuit is just one of about six major lawsuits filed recently to challenge various aspects of the state's budget and threatening to throw it out of kilter, if they are victorious.
To support his decision, Judge Hughes cited a previous case, Levitt v. Rockefeller, where former state Comptroller Arthur Levitt sued then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller over the validity of certain budget bills. The court ruled in favor of Mr. Levitt, and Judge Hughes noted in his ruling that, "This Court agrees with that holding."