Assemblyman Joseph Borelli (R,C,I – South Shore) is calling on the Governor and the Legislature to abandon the longstanding annual practice of raiding the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) coffers of hundreds of millions of dollars and remitting those dollars to the State’s General Fund to be spent on advertising and programs like Start-Up NY.
As part of the Legislature’s final budget bill, $90 million is being moved from the New York Power Authority’s budget to cover advertising and costs for Governor Cuomo’s economic development programs, Global NY and Start-Up NY – a program that, excluding any money siphoned from public authorities, has a cost of $323 million over three years, and was responsible for the creation of a whopping 76 jobs last year.
A report issued by the NYS Comptroller in 2013 imputed that NYPA’s responsibility for delivering low-cost power, and promoting clean energy production and economic development “may be hindered” by the repeated use of authority resources for other purposes. Over the last 10 years alone, over $1 billion has been remitted from the NYPA budget to the State’s General Fund, averaging more than $100 million a year and almost 5% of the authority’s total revenues.
“Each year, $100 million is being siphoned from the NYPA, an authority with a nearly $2 billion debt, and remitted to the cavernous State General Fund,” said Borelli. “Each year, the raiding of this public authority’s coffer comes at the expense of New Yorkers who benefit from the many clean-energy production innovations provided by the NYPA.”
The NYS Division of the Budget released a report which, excluding monetary settlements, stated their anticipation of a $525 million General Fund cash surplus for fiscal year 2015. There was also a $1 billion General Fund cash surplus in fiscal year 2014.
Assemblyman Borelli, a member of the Assembly’s Energy Committee, had previously expressed opposition to Governor Cuomo’s proposed Title V permit and fee increases for the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, and urged the rejection of all proposed energy fee increases.
“Increasing the costs of power production ultimately leads to higher energy costs for consumers; that’s unacceptable, and it’s why I fought against Title V fee increases. But taking money from NYPA and spending it on advertising is more than misguided, it’s just wrong,” said Borelli.
NYPA, the largest public power utility in the United States, was established by the Power Authority Act in 1931, a primary objective of which was to facilitate the production of hydroelectric power on the St. Lawrence and Niagara rivers while preserving these natural resources of the state. The authority is additionally responsible for providing a low-cost energy supply to attract industry and produce adequate energy for New York’s rural and municipal electric systems.
“Sometimes government requires flexibility on fiscal matters in order to make decisions and seize opportunity,” said Borelli. “However, the public has a right to view this monetary exchange as dubious considering the current poor use of questionable advertising programs.”