The Empire Center for Public Policy this week filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing the state Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to share public payroll records on a timely basis, as required by the state Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

“For years, the MTA’s operating units have delayed their responses to our FOIL requests,” said Timothy Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center. “We hope the court will force the MTA to stop hitting the brakes and start following the law.”

Hoefer said the legal action comes after more than four months of delays and missed deadlines by the MTA and its subsidiaries in response to the Empire Center’s request for the agencies’ payrolls. While some MTA units provided payroll records after lengthy delays, the MTA’s New York City Transit system failed to answer the Empire Center’s “appeal of denial,” the last avenue of recourse before legal action.

For the past six years, the Empire Center has been posting and updating annual MTA payroll records in a searchable database format at its government transparency website, In its court petition, the Empire Center said the MTA had “consistently delayed providing the requested data.” It said this “appears to be part of a pattern of conduct.”

In addition to seeking prompt release of the requested payroll data, the Empire Center hopes to discourage future FOIL compliance delays by asking the court to order the MTA to pay “reasonable attorneys fees and costs” associated with the filing of the lawsuit.

The Empire Center is a non-partisan, non-profit, independent think tank located in Albany. In 2014, the Center won a landmark transparency case in Empire Center v. Teachers’ Retirement Systems that strongly reaffirmed the public’s right know the names of public pension recipients as well as the benefit amounts for which they qualify.

You may also like

Average Pay Spiked at Port Authority in 2021

Average pay for Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) employees increased nearly 10 percent last year, to $123,000. Read More

Over 700 MTA Employees Earned More in OT than Regular Pay in 2021, Data Show

More than 300 employees were paid at least $100,000 in overtime and at least 734 earned more in overtime than in regular pay at the MTA last year Read More

Legislative Spending Unevenly Divided Among Members

Spending by state lawmakers on office personnel and administrative costs varies widely, with some paying out nearly twice as much as others Read More

State OT, Salaries Up in 2021

Overtime pay for state employees rose to nearly $1 billion, and salaries increased by six percent during the 2021 calendar year, according to data posted today to Read More

Public School Retiree Pensions Set New Record

Average pension benefits for newly retired public educators outside New York City reached a record high last year Read More

Most Long Island Educators Paid at Least $100,000 Last Year

18% of all public-school teachers and administrators employed by school districts outside New York City were paid over $100,000 last year Read More

New Public Authority Payroll Data Now Posted at SeeThroughNY 

2020 payroll data for a total of 79,146 employees at 331 different New York State public authorities is now posted at, the Empire Center’s transparency website. Read More

$139K Average Pension for New Full-Career FDNY Retirees

Nearly three-quarters of those retiring last year from the City of New York’s Fire Department (FDNY) were eligible for six-figure pensions Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!