Assemblyman Ramos: Assembly Passes Package to Increase Oversight of Public Authorities

Legislation shines light on authority business practices, spending
July 11, 2003
Before the close of session, the Assembly passed a package of legislation aimed at ending abuses of the public trust by state authorities and public benefit corporations. This package of legislation helps ensure the choices public authorities make are closely scrutinized.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s illegal fare hike proved the dire need for change. Our working families are paying for the public deception that led to the MTA’s fare hike. This package is the first step toward ensuring Long Islanders are not kept in the dark. They will know the decisions affecting their quality of life and their wallets.

The first piece of legislation I sponsored would help increase New Yorkers’ confidence in MTA operations, provide independent oversight of the MTA, improve the contracting process, and end unjustified fare increases (A.7998-D).

My legislation creates an oversight board and establishes an independent budget office. The MTA would be required to provide timely reports of operating plans to both bodies for review and comment. In addition, my legislation would:
  • Increase the independence of the MTA Inspector General (IG) by having the Attorney General appoint the IG;
  • Require more public hearings prior to major service changes;
  • Mandate a biennial report on the potential for a future rate increase; and
  • Require the MTA to produce annual reports on the safety and health of MTA passengers and employees.

Another bill would establish an independent budget office (IBO) for public authorities and public benefit corporations (A.9012). This bill would require the IBO to collect, distribute and assess information about the budget for each authority. The IBO would also make reports and provide information to the public and elected officials.

This bill ensures authorities have their finances examined by independent experts. Having their proposed budgets thoroughly analyzed and out in the open would go a long way toward ensuring that potential problems don’t become real problems for the people of Suffolk County.

The final bill in this package would require each public authority to establish a central procurement office which would maintain a public record of authority contracts (A.9010). Each year authorities spend billions of dollars and this legislation helps ensure authorities learn from each other and make the most effective choices when it comes to purchasing goods and services.

The MTA’s abuses and public deception has made Long Islander’s realize that without proper regulations and attentive, honest management, authorities can spiral out of control. This package of legislation would help keep authorities honest and make certain that the money our families work so hard for is not wasted by mismanagement.