COLUMN: Agency, authorities eliminated with new law

— New laws recently signed by the Governor will eliminate 120 inactive local authorities and agencies. I was pleased to support these bills in the Assembly. The laws repealed the "statutory authorization" for authorities or agencies that were already defunct or never established by local municipalities in the first place. In all cases, their services were either no longer needed or were already being handled or duplicated by another board. The law transfers the entities’ books, records and rights to the municipality where each is located.

Such agencies included urban renewal agencies, solid waste management authorities and parking authorities. Mostly, the new laws streamlined the books for municipalities. This is a good step in an effort to cut government spending and reduce property taxes. This means that 120 fewer authorities and agencies have the authority to bond or borrow on the taxpayers' dime.

The state adopted the Public Authorities Reform Act in 2009 to limit the expansion of state and local quasi-public agencies and make them more accountable to the public. The agencies and authorities that were done away with were recommended by the Authorities Budget Office, as a result of the earlier reform act. I was pleased to support this effort in the Assembly as well.

Over the years, we created too many agencies and authorities. State authorities issued $14 billion in debt last year and have $141.9 billion in outstanding debt, according to a recent report from the Authorities Budget Office. Local authorities issued $14.5 billion in debt last year and have $91.4 billion outstanding. I'm glad to see some of this borrowing ability reduced with the elimination of some of these agencies and authorities. The report states that virtually every resident is impacted by their financial decisions. Though this was a great first step, more still needs to be done to eliminate government waste and duplicate services.

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