9:44am

Mon February 10, 2014
State Debt

State comptroller says highway fund mostly used for state debt, operating costs

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 9:34 am

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says last fiscal year, less than a quarter of the state's dedicated highway and bridge trust fund was used to pay for infrastructure maintenance. He says the rest of the money was spent on state debt payments and other operating costs.

Republican Sen. Joe Griffo, who represents Utica, Rome and Massena, is one of several state lawmakers supporting the BRIDGE Act, which would require that funds added to the account are used only for infrastructure projects.

"They've used it to either deal with operations, have used it to borrow against if they had a capital project that they felt was something that needed to be done that may not be directly related to a bridge or highway," Griffo said. "They've refinanced the borrowing. So there have been a lot of things done that really have moved away from its intended, stated initial purpose."

He says funds collected by the state through driver fees and gas taxes will be put to use fixing the state's roads and bridges.

"I think it's very important that we pay attention to our infrastructure, particularly from a safety perspective, but also from an economic development perspective. Because transportation networks are extremely important, and when you;re saying that a third of our bridges need repairs to meet federal standards, that's a concern," said Griffo.

The BRIDGE Act has been approved by the Senate twice already, but has not been acted on in the Assembly.

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