Today’s Headlines

  • There’s a $700 Million Hole in Senate Dems’ MTA Funding Plan (NYT)
  • Smith Heads to DC to Meet With Obama and Biden, Puts MTA Action on Hold (Politicker, News)
  • NYers Demand Action From State Senate to Save Transit (News)
  • Bklyn Paper: No Rescue for Transit Without ‘Top-to-Bottom’ MTA Reform
  • White House Expands Automaker Bailout With $5B for Parts Suppliers (NYT)
  • NYMTC: Region Has $50B in Transpo Infrastructure Needs, and $5B to Pay for It All (NY1)
  • Where to Find New York’s Potential Stim Projects Online (MTR)
  • Open Left Diarist Breaks Down the New HUD-DOT Partnership
  • City Rezoning Webster Ave in the Bronx for Housing and Retail (Norwood News)
  • Broken Sidewalk Compares Ped Crossings in Seattle, England, and Louisville (via Streetsblog.net)
  • From the NYT “…the Senate mistakenly turned a series of expenses into income. ”

    Now that *is* out of the box thinking. Call expenses “income” and all the problems magically disapear!

    We should all do this. I spent $34 on groceries last night and made $34! Amazing! Now I’m going to go buy some new shoes and MAKE $50! This calls for a spening spree! Genius.

  • Smith and legislative leaders from other states will also meet with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s senior advisers.

    Hey, LaHood is a Republican. Maybe he can help Smith to bring Marty Golden over to bridge tolls.

  • Glenn

    Smith’s tenure as Senate Majority leader is not long for this world. Someone like Liz Kruger (or somebody) needs to call together her allies in both parties and create a moderate majority that cuts out the lumpen class of dysfunctional legislators.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Newsday blames the current crisis on the debt-ridden funding of the 2000-04 MTA Capital Plan, which caused debts to soar. The state legislature approved that deal, because it was something for nothing.

    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/politics/ny-pojani206076119mar20,0,1825927.story

    That’s the right idea, but a little incomplete.

    1. 2000 was also the year of the massive pension enhancement, which its advocates claimed would be “free.” While pension contributions were inadequate in the years leading up to that, they have since soared to unreasonable levels, with the 2000 deal contributing. That deal passed the legislature without a single “no” vote.

    2. In 1992-93, faced with a fiscal crisis caused by a recession, Cuomo/Dinkins cut off state and city capital funding for the MTA. Cuomo’s officials also agreed to allow TA labor services on capital projects to charge the capital plan, so borrowed money could be used.

    3. The 1994-99 capital plan also featured massive borrowing.

    4. During the 1994 to 2000 boom, rather than restore the funding now that tax dollars were rolling in, Pataki/Giuliani directed the funds elsewhere. With the MTA dedicated tax revenues also rising, and more operating costs being billed to the capital plan, the MTA introduced all its discounts — a massive fare cut praised by all.

    5. Meanwhile, since the MTA was “flush” although going deeper and deeper into debt, the Pataki administration agreed that suburban MTA tax revenues would go to surburban roads in places like Rockland County, not the MTA. Later, more of these “dedicated” taxes were diverted.

    6. The 2005 to 2009 capital plan was just as debt-ridden as the one before. The only difference was a share of it was counted as “state debt” not “MTA Debt” because it was paid for by an indefinate 1/8 cent increase in the sales tax in the MTA region. The legislature passed that too.

    7. The housing and real estate bubble disguised the MTA’s problems, due to soaring real estate transfer tax revenues. Little of that was saved, because everyone accused the MTA of squirriling away the money, which is exactly what it should have done.

    Meanwhile, the same games were played with “dedicated” funding for the roads. And New York State continued to have the highest state and local taxes in the country, excluding states where oil tax revenues carry most of the burden (Alaska and Wyoming). The lack of infrastructure maintenance and soaring debts are despite this.

    And through much of this period the NYC schools were underfunded, at least the classroom and administrative part, with high spending in only one location — the retirees. And funding for services for the poor was slashed during this period as well.

    And everyone celebrated, because our saints, heroes and genuses in Albany were handing out little gifts here and there. (The big gifts tended to be handed over quietly).

    All the money is gone. I did what little I could to stop it. Anyone else?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I don’t really understand how people can look at this history as a call for more Mayoral control of the system. Forget the TBTA distribution formula and the other authority mandates, what makes the Brooklyn Paper, Weiner, etc. able to convince readers and voters that the same politicians that failed to fund the system, ranging politically from Bloomber through Giuliani to Dinkins would be willing and able to fund the system?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The same politicians that failed to fund the system, ranging politically from Bloomber through Giuliani to Dinkins would be willing and able to fund the system?”

    You mean the other politicians that failed to fund the system. The State of New York may be the worst, but what we have is a cultural tsunami, in which the self-interested have take over our public and private institutions, and a few generations have failed to give a damn about the future.

    Now it is here.