Comptroller Edward V. Regan of New York yesterday threatened to sue the state to block an $80 million state authority revenue bond deal he has called a fiscal gimmick.
If he follows through, it would mark the first time in his 12 years as comptroller that Mr. Regan has tried to take the state to court over a bond sale.
Eliminating the $80 million in bond proceeds would throw the state's fiscal 1992 budget out of balance. The fiscal year began April 1 but the state did not have a final budget in place until early July, when lawmakers and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo agreed to a $52.4 billion package that included the bond deal.
In June and early July, Mr. Reagan said he opposed the bonding measure included in the budget. But yesterday market the first time the comptroller indicated he would do something about it.
"As the state's chief fiscal officer, I will not sit back and allow yet another egregious use of non-voter-approved, taxpayer-supported debt to go forward," Mr. Regan said in a statement. "This is the worst and the most blatant in a long line of budget-balancing gimmicks."
A bill included in the fiscal 1992 budget, which started April 1, would authorize the state's thru-way authority to sell $80 million of revenue bonds to pay for some capital expenses, now paid out of toll revenues.
In a letter dated July 17 and sent to Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, who included the bonding measure in a last-minute budget compromise with state lawmakers, Mr. Regan said, "At this juncture, I must advise you that I have instructed my legal staff to prepare the necessary papers, once you have signed the legislation, to seek judicial review and relief in order to attempt to prevent this transaction."
Commenting on the comptroller's plan, Mr. Regan's spokesman, Marvin Nailor, said, "I believe this is the first time" Mr. Regan has ever threatened to go to court to block a state bond deal. Mr. Nailor noted that this sale of bonds was a constitutional issue and the comptroller's office would file the suit in state Supreme Court in Albany.
The bond deal, the comptroller said, is simply the writing of a check to the state for a one-shot revenue of $80 million and "forcing future taxpayers to pay it back with interest at double the amount."
A spokesman for Gov. Cuomo said, "We believe the proposal is both legal and sound. Despite this, the comptroller is threatening to imbalance the budget in the amount of $80 million.
"We find his position inexplicable," the spokesman said.
Peter Tufo, chairman of the authority, said, "State fiscal policy is set by the Lesiglature. We have taken no action on this."
Mr. Tufo added, "Despite the misleading impression the comptroller has tried to create, this transaction would be cost-free to authority."
The bonds would be secured with annual state appropriations, not toll revenues, Mr. Tufo said.