Public Authorities Reform Before End of Session? Perhaps

About a year ago, reform of the state’s public authorities came close to a reality before legislation talks broke down in Albany, and now, with state legislators set to adjourn for the summer on June 23, Newsday has an editorial calling for reform once again.

Critics of authorities, semi-independent state agencies like the M.T.A. and the Long Island Power Authority, have long called for reform, saying the bodies have too little oversight and are prone to irresponsible spending.

“There’s been a lot of work being done to prepare the ground for agreement,” Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, chairman of the Assembly committee for authorities, told us Monday. “Over the last week, I’ve been in what I’ll call very, very constructive and active discussions directly with Governor Paterson and his senior staff about the single most important reform,” public authorities reform, he said.

Discussions, of course, do not necessarily mean forward movement.

When we asked Mr. Paterson about legislation that he wanted to get accomplished before the end of session, he didn’t mention public authorities reform. Then, when asked if legislation was moving forward, he said Mr. Brodsky had approached him about it, adding generally that “everything’s up for consideration.”

The legislation put forward last year, which eventually failed in the Senate after the Assembly passed its plan, would have created a new oversight board for authorities, among other changes.

John Flanagan, Mr. Brodsky’s Republican counterpart in the Senate, is said to be adjusting the Senate proposal. His spokesman, Robert Caroppoli, did not respond to requests for comment. Public Authorities Reform Before End of Session? Perhaps