Peabody award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Do Bad Past Debt Decisions Make Voters Weary of Transit Investments?
Monday, December 06, 2010 - 01:04 PM
Wonder why voters seem to be coming down against big transit projects like the ARC? Over at "It's a Free Country," our colleague Bob Hennelly tallies up what local governments have spent on big projects like stadiums and shopping malls.
Much of the state and local debt can be traced to the proliferation of so-called "special district" governments like your local "economic development” or “incinerator authority.”
These entities can be used to build critical transportation and water projects or to finance higher education. But they also can provide the grease for the "private-public" partnerships that builds sports stadiums and shopping malls for the politically connected.
In 1952, there were just 12,340 of them. By the start of the 21st century there were 35,359 of them. Eleven states each now have over one thousand such publicly-funded independent authorities. Not surprisingly, Illinois tops the list with 3,145, followed by California with 2,830 and Texas with 2,245. Pennsylvania has 1,885 and New York has spawned 1,135.
Full story here. -- TN