dinapoli1From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo departs this afternoon for a whirlwind trip to Puerto Rico during which he will express “solidarity” with the island’s officials as they battle a massive debt crisis.

The trip is just as notable (if not more so) for who’s NOT going than for who is joining the governor for the 24-hour visit.

Cuomo says the purpose of the short journey is to provide assistance in the form of advice on financial matters and health care as leaders on Puerto Rico try to figure out how to address their $72 billion debt. He has refused to take a stance on whether the island, a US commonwealth, should be allowed to declare bankruptcy – an idea of which Congress is not a fan.

Since the whole focus of this visit is financial, you would think the governor would want to include on his delegation the top investors in the state. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer was invited to attend, but NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli – the sole trustee of the state’s massive pension fund – was not.

At least not at first.

“As you know, a press release went out with the delegation that had been invited, and we were not on the press released because we had not been invited,” DiNapoli said during a CapTon interview last Friday night. “Subsequent to that press release going out, we did get a call saying if I wanted to go, I could.”

(Interestingly, another high-profile elected official who didn’t make the cut for this trip, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, hasn’t yet received an after-the-fact invite. Maybe it got lost in the mail).

The comptroller said he didn’t take the administration up on its offer, and he’s going to remain here at home. That does not mean, however, that he’s not monitoring the situation with Puerto Rico.

DiNapoli was quick to note that the pension fund does not have direct exposure if the island declares bankruptcy, though some of the companies and hedge funds in which it invests undoubtedly do.

“I haven’t put out a broad position,” the comptroller said. “There are many smart people who have focused on what to do here, including our friend Dick Ravitch, the former lieutenant governor, who is very involved in these discussions.”

“Obviously, the real direction needs to come from the federal government. If there is going to be some reworking of law to allow for some kind of a bankruptcy option that has to be done at the federal level.”

“…There have been systemic problems going on for a long time that should have been addressed a long time ago about the finances there, and it’s in all of our interests to see that there is not a collapse,” DiNapoli continued.

The comptroller said it would be “great” if the New York delegation could provide some ideas to help Puerto Rico save money, but ultimately, this problem is going to have to be solved by Washington, not Albany.