Thomas DiNapoli has been state comptroller now for seven years, and in that stretch has proven why he should keep his job, despite the challenge from a strong opponent, Republican Robert Antonacci.
DiNapoli, a longtime Democratic assemblyman, was appointed to the post after Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty to a felony and resigned. DiNapoli won election in 2010. Back then we expressed some reservations about DiNapoli, but he has proven to be a strong fiscal manager.
He has cleaned up the State Pension Fund from the stain of the Hevesi scandal. He is unafraid of ruffling the feathers of members of his own party, including the governor. That last point is important because the comptroller must be the watchdog for the whole state. DiNapoli has not shied away from reviewing the governor’s office. He has said that the state budget does not have a major surplus and will show out-year deficits, although smaller and more manageable than in past years.
DiNapoli restored the reputation of the comptroller’s office and rebuilt management of the state’s $180 billion pension fund to prevent any new scandal, in part by setting high ethics standards and creating an office of inspector general. He accomplished this during the challenge of the global financial crisis.
Over the years, the comptroller’s audits have uncovered waste and abuse of taxpayer money by local governments and identified cost-savings opportunities. In addition, DiNapoli launched the Fiscal Stress Monitoring System to help municipalities better manage their finances.
DiNapoli has focused on rooting out public corruption, including strengthening ties with state and federal prosecutors. With the attorney general, he created the Joint Task Force on Public Integrity to fight financial abuses.
With relatively little fanfare, DiNapoli has performed effectively in this key state government position.
Antonacci, a certified public accountant and lawyer who is serving a second term as Onondaga County comptroller, has strong financial credentials that make him an impressive candidate. But our nod, following years of proving himself on the job, goes to DiNapoli.
Saturday: Members of Congress.