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New Hyde Park Trustees Talk State Fiscal Cliff

New York State Comptroller’s report cites $63 billion in growing state debt.

With all the talk about the United States teetering on or going over so-called fiscal cliff onto an austerity budget, New Hyde Park Village Trustee Lawrence Montreuil felt it was important that New York State is facing its own financial crisis.

Citing a recent report issued by state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at Tuesday’s meeting of the village board at the village hall, Montreuil noted that “one of the items is that was the raising debt situation in New York State. We’re well aware of the fiscal cliff situation across the country but apparently as DiNapoli points out, the same situation is looming on us in New York State as well.”

New York is about $63 billion in debt as of March 2012, equating to about $3,200 per resident, the second-highest debt in the country to only California and is 80-percent higher than the No. 3 most debt-laden state, New Jersey.

“Governor Cuomo wants to eliminate villages, the ones that are spending only the money we have and we have a very balanced and conservative debt plan,” mayor Daniel Petruccio said. “He wants to roll us out of existence so that more of the services can fall to the state that can’t provide the services now without going into heavy debt.”

“It’s mind boggling,” Montreuil said.

“Mystifying,” Petruccio said with a faux southern-drawl.

The rate of borrowing and debt service has continued to grow in recent years, totaling $6.8 billion this past fiscal year for debt service alone.

“He points out that over the last 10 years, while spending from the state increased in education by 5.3 percent, Medicare 5 percent, the debt service increased 9.4 percent,” Montreuil said. “So again, it just seems to be just a crazy amount of spending.”

“If you factor in to the debt obligations entities such as the MTA and other special-purpose authorities that have been created to avoid public referendum on debt, it’s staggering,” deputy mayor Robert Lofaro said.

“They point out that 95 percent of the debt over the last 10 years was from just such authorities that are run by appointees that don’t have any direct accountability to the public,” Montreuil said. “They’re not voted into office, their budgets aren’t scrutinized by the public, they’re not publicly voted.”

Images of the failed third track initiative as part of the Long Island Rail Road’s Main Line Corridor Improvement project also sprang to mind, as recently a Long Island Index report stated additional tracks could be an economic boon to Long Island.

“In our 12 years on the board the biggest issue we faced as a community was a third track expansion project which comes under that umbrella,” Petruccio said, “which... it’s dead because there’s no money but it shouldn’t have even been brought out as a topic because there wasn’t money for it; it’s unconscionable.”

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