State comptroller: NY government debt tops $63B

Jan 7, 2013

NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli briefs the media on his priorities for the New Year.
Credit WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

Each January, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli invites the media to his office for an informal breakfast discussion about current challenges facing state and local governments and his priorities for the New Year...

WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas attended this morning's event, and filed this report.

The New York comptroller says the state government's debt has topped $63 billion, with New York on track to approach its borrowing limit in early 2014.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says Monday the debt burden, averaging $3,253 per resident, is almost three times U.S. median...     New York's debt is second only to California's $96.4 billion in state-funded debt and 80 percent higher than New Jersey, which is in third place.

The $63 billion total is $24 billion, or 62 percent, higher than a decade ago. DiNapoli says that could threaten critical infrastructure projects, including those following Superstorm Sandy.

And he said we won't know until December cash reports are released what kind of an impact Sandy had on the budget.

The comptroller mentioned that 2 million dollars in unclimed funds was returned to Sandy neighborhoods.

The comptroller projects New York's borrowing capacity falling to $509 million after the 2013-2014 fiscal year.  State lawmakers in 2000 imposed the debt limit, which is based on personal income. DiNapoli says New York continues to issue new debt.

DiNapoli is renewing his call to create a more effective cap on NY debt by limiting all state-funded debt to 5 per cent of personal income, with a nine-year phase in of the cap. He supports a constitutional amendment to restrict use of long-term debt to capital purposes and a constitutional ban on so-called "backdoor borrowing" by state public authorities to require new types of state debt to be approved by the legislature and the voters, before being issued by the comptroller.