New York City has finally wriggled off the hook for what's left of that ‘70s debt. Under last week's ruling by the state's highest court, $2 billion the city was obligated to pay the Municipal Assistance Corp. (MAC) over the next four years will be transformed into roughly $5 billion in state payments to yet another financing entity over the next 30 years.
Under cover of the summer doldrums, Mayor Bloomberg's budget staff is feverishly putting the finishing touches on one of the biggest bonding boondoggles in New York State's history.
The two New Yorks - city and state - were the nation's twin towers of public indebtedness long before the tragic events of Sept. 11 placed extraordinary new strains on their budgets.
In his budget message last month, Gov. Pataki called for constitutional reforms to control New York state's debt and ban non-voter-approved "back-door borrowing." But at the same time he quietly proposed a new form of back-door debt -- potentially the most significant change in the state's borrowing practices in decades.