State Controller speaks at Towers

New York State Controller Thomas DiNapoli made his first visit to North Shore Towers since first taking the office and began his talk about the function of the state controller’s office, saying the state is, “Being affected very dramatically by the economic downturn.”
He explained that his office comments on the state’s finances, fiscal practices and state budget adding that another problem facing the state is that its spending has been more than the amount of money it has been taking in.
DiNapoli said that at the beginning of 2008 the budget gap was $5 billion, adding that within three years it could exceed $26 billion. Meetings are now being held to determine how to close that budget gap.
“It’s a serious challenge but I’m an optimist,” DiNapoli said. “We’re going to get through this time.”
Another effort being made by DiNapoli’s office is to promote financial literacy in New York and give information on how people can deal with their own budgets during tough economic times.
Other functions of his office that DiNapoli detailed include running the state retirement system, conducting audits of state agencies, and acting as the custodian for abandoned property in the state. He said there is currently $9 billion of unclaimed funds that they want to get back to New Yorkers.
DiNapoli also took questions from residents at the meeting on Wednesday, August 13.
The lack of Industrial Development Agencies (IDA) legislation to provide needed funding was raised. DiNapoli said that although such funding can assist worthy projects, there has also been debate on how it can be reformed and improved. He said that his office did a report that suggested more accountability. Although he said there will be direct discussion, DiNapoli said that he didn’t “know what it’s going to take to force a compromise.”
Presidential candidate Barack Obama was also brought into the discussion when as a resident raised concerns that people still believe he is Muslim with Muslim ties and what will happen with New York State’s electoral votes. Although he is a supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton, DiNapoli said that as he looks at Obama’s record be becomes “more comfortable with him and his positions.
“I’m very comfortable in supporting Senator Obama and more importantly I really think this country needs a significant change,” DiNapoli said.
Other issues that were discussed included the Medicare Part D doughnut hole and problems with credit cards.
In an interview afterwards, DiNapoli said that his office is in the process of review the MTA’s financial plan, adding that they are working with the MTA to create a firmer financial footing and keep fares affordable.
“I think this is an important issue that we’re trying to be helpful on,” he said.

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