This bill has been amended

Bill S763-2013

Relates to enacting the New York state thruway authority accountability act

Enacts the New York state thruway authority accountability act; names the commissioner of DOT as chair of the thruway authority board; directs the commissioner of DOT to submit a plan to merge the thruway authority into the department of transportation.

Details

Actions

  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO TRANSPORTATION
  • Jan 9, 2013: REFERRED TO TRANSPORTATION

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S763

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public authorities law and the transportation law, in relation to enacting the New York state thruway authority accountability act

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To restore accountability, increase efficiency, and reduce expenses by making structural reforms and statutory changes to the Thruway Authority.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill entitles it as the New York State Thruway Authority Accountability Act.

Section 2 of the bill adds a definition of the Department of Transportation.

Section 3 of the bill reconstitutes the Board of the Thruway Authority, establishes qualifications for appointment, and adds the Commissioner of Transportation as the ex officio chair of the Board.

Section 4 of the bill specifies that the Commissioner of Transportation will have sole responsibility in administering the operations of the Thruway Authority.

Section 5 of the bill directs the Commissioner of Transportation to establish a plan to merge the operations of the Thruway Authority with that of the Department of Transportation (DOT). It also provides that there will be no layoffs of personnel in either the Thruway Authority or DOT as a direct consequence of the merger. The Commissioner is required to submit a merger plan to the Governor and Legislature within 120 days of the effective date of this Act. Furthermore, the Commissioner must contract with a certified public accounting firm to undertake an independent, comprehensive forensic audit of the Thruway Authority, which will have to be completed within one year of the initial contract and then conducted every 3 years thereafter. This audit is to be submitted to the Governor, State Comptroller, and Legislature.

Section 6 of the bill outlines who is to be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Thruway system.

Section 7 of the bill directs the Thruway Authority to submit its requisite annual report to the legislative leaders and fiscal committees.

Section 8 of the bill mandates that DOT's annual budget request include any proposals for toll increases and the justification for such increases.

Section 9 of the bill is the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION:

The Thruway Authority is not working. The currently proposed 45 percent toll hike on trucks would actually be the fifth toll hike since 2004. As a frame of reference, in the first 50 years of the Thruway, there were only four toll increases. Clearly, the problems at the Authority are so severe, the lack of accountability so systemic, and the fiscal irresponsibility so breathtaking that we need to hit the reset button and start over.

This "Thruway Authority Accountability Act" would restore accountability, increase efficiency and reduce expenses by making structural reforms and statutory changes to the Thruway Authority as follows:

(1) merging the Thruway Authority with the Department of Transportation (DOT);

(2) creating a new Thruway Authority Board, the members of which must have transportation or financial expertise;

(3) making the DOT Commissioner the Chair of the Thruway Authority Board;

(4) requiring a comprehensive forensic audit of the Thruway Authority every three years;

(5) requiring any proposed Thruway toll hikes - and the reasons for the requested increases -to be clearly identified in DOT's budget; and

(6) reducing expenses by consolidating the Thruway Authority's overlapping functions within DOT and streamlining the Authority through attrition.

In December of 2011, the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo had initially approved a proposal to share service and leadership teams between DOT and a new Thruway/Bridge Authority. However, the cost saving merger proposed by the SAGE Commission did not make it into its January 2012 recommendations.

Under this "Thruway Authority Accountability Act", DOT would take over day-to-day operational oversight of the Thruway Authority. However, the Thruway Authority will continue to exist to protect the $3.2 billion in outstanding bond obligations, and its credit rating, and thus prevent any default on debt.

In addition, this Act would prohibit the termination of any of the Thruway Authority's more than 3,000 employees or any DOT employees as a direct consequence of the merger. Over time, cost savings would be achieved by attrition, which, for most State agencies, occurs at rates estimated to be between 5 and 10 percent annually.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:

The bill prohibits Thruway Authority layoffs as a result of its merger with DOT. However, savings are expected from operational efficiencies and, over time, attrition. The savings are unknown at this time, but are expected to be identified in the merger plan submitted by the Commissioner of Transportation. The bill seeks to ensure that the fiduciary responsibilities of the Authority Board are to remain unaffected by this merger, and that the Authority will fulfill its obligations to bond holders. In addition, it is the intention of the Sponsor that the tolls will continue to be collected and guarantee the debt of the Authority.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 763 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sen. NOZZOLIO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Transportation AN ACT to amend the public authorities law and the transportation law, in relation to enacting the New York state thruway authority account- ability act THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. This act shall be known and be may cited as the "New York state thruway authority accountability act". S 2. Section 351 of the public authorities law is amended by adding a new subdivision 4-a to read as follows: 4-A. THE TERM "DEPARTMENT" SHALL MEAN THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTA- TION. S 3. Subdivision 1 of section 352 of the public authorities law, as amended by chapter 766 of the laws of 2005, is amended to read as follows: 1. (A) A board to be known as "New York state thruway authority" is hereby created. Such board shall be a body corporate and politic consti- tuting a public corporation. It shall consist of seven members appointed by the governor by and with the advice and consent of the senate. [The members first appointed shall serve for terms ending three, six and nine years, respectively from January first next succeeding their appoint- ment. Provided, however, that two board members first appointed on or after the effective date of the chapter of the laws of two thousand five which amended this subdivision shall serve an initial term of two years; provided further that two other board members first appointed on or after the effective date of the chapter of the laws of two thousand five which amended this subdivision shall serve an initial term of three years. Their successors shall be appointed for terms of nine years each. A member to be designated as chairman in his or her appointment as a
member shall be chairman of such board until his or her term as member expires.]
THE COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION SHALL BE DESIGNATED AND SERVE EX-OFFICIO AS THE CHAIR OF THE BOARD UNTIL THE END OF THE TERM OF THE GOVERNOR BY WHOM HE OR SHE WAS APPOINTED AND UNTIL HIS OR HER SUCCESSOR IS APPOINTED AND HAS QUALIFIED. The chairman and the other members shall serve without ADDITIONAL salary or other compensation, but shall be entitled to reimbursement for their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties. (B) NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW OR THE PROVISIONS OF ANY APPOINTMENT BY THE GOVERNOR, THE TERMS OF ALL MEMBERS SERVING AS SUCH AS OF MARCH THIRTY-FIRST, TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN, OR ON THE EFFEC- TIVE DATE OF THIS PARAGRAPH, WHICHEVER DATE IS LATER, SHALL IMMEDIATELY TERMINATE, EXCEPT THAT SUCH MEMBERS SHALL CONTINUE TO SERVE UNTIL THEIR SUCCESSORS ARE APPOINTED AND HAVE QUALIFIED. (C) ANY MEMBER APPOINTED SHALL HAVE EXPERIENCE IN ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING AREAS: TRANSPORTATION, BUSINESS MANAGEMENT, FINANCE, ACCOUNT- ING OR MANAGEMENT OF LARGE CAPITAL PROJECTS. (D) TWO MEMBERS OF THE BOARD APPOINTED ON OR AFTER APRIL FIRST, TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN, SHALL BE APPOINTED TO TERMS OF THREE YEARS; TWO OTHER MEMBERS OF THE BOARD SHALL BE APPOINTED TO TERMS OF FOUR YEARS; AND TWO MEMBERS OF THE BOARD SHALL BE APPOINTED TO TERMS OF FIVE YEARS, PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT SUCH MEMBERS SHALL CONTINUE TO SERVE AFTER THE END OF THEIR TERMS UNTIL THEIR SUCCESSORS ARE APPOINTED AND HAVE QUALI- FIED, AND PROVIDED FURTHER THAT NOTWITHSTANDING THE TERM TO WHICH ANY SUCH MEMBER SHALL HAVE BEEN APPOINTED SUCH A CONTINUATION OF THE TERM OF A MEMBER SHALL NOT REQUIRE CONFIRMATION BY THE SENATE. S 4. Section 11 of the transportation law, as amended by chapter 460 of the laws of 1971, is amended to read as follows: S 11. Department of transportation; commissioner. There shall be in the state government a department of transportation. The head of the department shall be the commissioner of transportation, who shall be appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, and hold office until the end of the term of the governor by whom he was appointed and until his successor is appointed and has qual- ified. The commissioner of transportation shall have sole charge of the administration of the department AND THE NEW YORK STATE THRUWAY AUTHORI- TY ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO TITLE NINE OF ARTICLE TWO OF THE PUBLIC AUTHORITIES LAW. THE COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION SHALL SERVE AS A MEMBER AND CHAIR OF THE THRUWAY AUTHORITY BOARD ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SECTION THREE HUNDRED FIFTY-TWO OF THE PUBLIC AUTHORITIES LAW. S 5. The transportation law is amended by adding a new section 23 to read as follows: S 23. NEW YORK STATE THRUWAY AUTHORITY ADMINISTRATION AND OVERSIGHT. 1. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL ESTABLISH A PLAN TO MERGE THE OPERATIONS OF THE THRUWAY AUTHORITY WITH THAT OF THE DEPARTMENT AND CONSOLIDATE SERVICES WHERE APPROPRIATE, PROVIDED THAT NO EMPLOYEE OF THE AUTHORITY OR THE DEPARTMENT SHALL BE TERMINATED AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE MERGER. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL SUBMIT A REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATURE WITHIN ONE HUNDRED TWENTY DAYS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SECTION. THE REPORT SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY, THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE, THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE ASSEMBLY, THE CHAIR AND RANKING MINORITY MEMBER OF THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE, THE CHAIR AND RANKING MINORITY MEMBER OF THE ASSEMBLY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, THE CHAIRS AND RANKING MINORI- TY MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY CORPORATIONS, AUTHORITIES AND
COMMISSIONS COMMITTEES, AND THE CHAIRS AND RANKING MINORITY MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEES. 2. (A) THE COMMISSIONER SHALL, WITHIN SIXTY DAYS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SECTION, AND EVERY THREE YEARS THEREAFTER, CONTRACT WITH A CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM FOR THE PROVISION OF AN INDEPENDENT, COMPREHENSIVE, FORENSIC AUDIT OF THE THRUWAY AUTHORITY. SUCH AUDIT SHALL BE PERFORMED IN ACCORDANCE WITH GENERALLY ACCEPTED GOVERNMENT AUDITING STANDARDS. (B) THE CERTIFIED INDEPENDENT PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM PROVIDING THE INDEPENDENT, COMPREHENSIVE, FORENSIC AUDIT OF THE THRUWAY AUTHORITY SHALL BE PROHIBITED FROM PROVIDING AUDIT SERVICES IF THE LEAD OR COORDI- NATING AUDIT PARTNER, HAVING PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE AUDIT, OR THE AUDIT PARTNER RESPONSIBLE FOR REVIEWING THE AUDIT, HAS PERFORMED AUDIT SERVICES FOR THE AUTHORITY WITHIN ANY OF THE TEN PREVIOUS FISCAL YEARS OF THE AUTHORITY. (C) THE CERTIFIED INDEPENDENT ACCOUNTING FIRM PERFORMING THE AUDIT PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL BE PROHIBITED FROM PERFORMING ANY NON-AU- DIT SERVICES FOR THE AUTHORITY CONTEMPORANEOUSLY WITH THE AUDIT. (D) IT SHALL BE PROHIBITED FOR THE CERTIFIED INDEPENDENT PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM TO PERFORM ANY AUDIT SERVICE IF THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, COMPTROLLER, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, CHIEF ACCOUNTING OFFICER OR ANY OTHER PERSON SERVING IN AN EQUIVALENT POSITION IN THE AUTHORITY WAS AN EMPLOYEE, CONSULTANT OR INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR OF THAT CERTIFIED INDEPENDENT PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM AND PARTICIPATED IN ANY CAPACITY IN THE AUDIT OF THE AUTHORITY AT ANY TIME IN THE PAST. (E) THE CERTIFIED INDEPENDENT PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM CONTRACTED TO PERFORM THE INDEPENDENT, COMPREHENSIVE, FORENSIC AUDIT OF THE THRUWAY AUTHORITY SHALL, WITHIN ONE YEAR OF THE INITIATION OF THE CONTRACT, REPORT ITS FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE GOVERNOR, THE STATE COMPTROLLER, THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE SPEAK- ER OF THE ASSEMBLY, THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE, THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE ASSEMBLY, THE CHAIR AND RANKING MINORITY MEMBER OF THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE, THE CHAIR AND RANKING MINORITY MEMBER OF THE ASSEMBLY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, THE CHAIRS AND RANKING MINORITY MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AND THE ASSEMBLY CORPORATIONS, AUTHORITIES AND COMMISSIONS COMMITTEES, AND THE CHAIRS AND RANKING MINORITY MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AND THE ASSEMBLY TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEES. S 6. Section 360 of the public authorities law, as amended by chapter 766 of the laws of 1992, is amended to read as follows: S 360. Operation and maintenance. Operation and maintenance by the authority of any thruway section or connection or any part thereof or of a highway connection, the New York state canal system of which it has assumed jurisdiction shall be performed (a) by the use of authority forces and equipment at the expense of the authority or by agreement at the expense of the state or other parties; (b) by contract with munici- palities or independent contractors; (c) at the request of the [authori- ty] COMMISSIONER, by the [commissioner and his subordinates in the department of transportation as agents for,] AUTHORITY and at the expense of the authority, or (d) by a combination of such methods. S 7. Section 363 of the public authorities law, as amended by chapter 766 of the laws of 1992, is amended to read as follows: S 363. Annual report. The authority shall submit to the governor, to the [legislature, to] SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY, THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE, THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE ASSEMBLY, THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE, THE ASSEMBLY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, the comptroller and to the director of the budget on or
before the first day of February of each year a detailed report setting forth its [operations and] fiscal transactions during the preceding calendar year with a statement of its financial condition as of the end of such year and a statement of all receipts and expenditures during such year. Such report shall include detailed information relating to additional expenditures incurred by the authority as a result of the amendments made to subdivision four of section three hundred fifty-nine of this [chapter] TITLE pursuant to the chapter of the laws of nineteen hundred ninety-two which enacted this sentence. S 8. Section 14 of the transportation law is amended by adding a new subdivision 13-a to read as follows: 13-A. AS PART OF THE DEPARTMENT'S ANNUAL BUDGET REQUEST, TO INCLUDE ANY REQUESTS FOR THRUWAY AUTHORITY TOLL INCREASES AND JUSTIFICATION FOR SUCH INCREASES. S 9. This act shall take effect immediately.

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