Cuomo Wants Budget Fix ASAP, So Another MTA Raid May Be Coming Soon

If Andrew Cuomo has his way, the state legislature and Governor Paterson will close the state’s $315 million shortfall before he takes office. The push from the governor-elect means that in the next two months, New York state’s current leadership may again determine whether to close a budget gap by raiding MTA dedicated funds. Nearly $20 million for transit could be on the line.

It cold happen again soon. Graphic: Carly Clark/Streetsblog
It could happen again soon. Graphic: Carly Clark/Streetsblog

Paterson has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t want to pass the current deficit on to the new administration. “That $315 million needs to be balanced so that the new governor can start on January 1 only dealing with a $9 billion deficit and not any surplus that came from the 2010-2011 budget negotiations,” said Paterson in a joint press conference held with Cuomo yesterday.

So far, the current legislature has rejected calls for a special session to deal with the deficit and other Paterson priorities. But at the joint presser, Cuomo added his voice to Paterson’s, urging the legislature to fix that $315 million hole before he takes office. “If Governor Paterson leaves a shortfall on the table, it rolls forward to next year and what is already an impossible year with a $9 billion deficit, give or take,” said Cuomo. “So if Governor Paterson were to compound next year, that would not be responsible.”

That adds some political muscle to Paterson’s request. Paterson is a lame duck, but legislative leaders are going to have to deal with Cuomo moving forward. Rejecting Cuomo’s call for a special session before January would start Sheldon Silver and John Sampson off on the wrong foot with the incoming governor.

Paterson has proposed closing the $315 million shortfall with a mechanism similar to what the state used earlier this year to make up for a shortfall in federal Medicaid payments. By instituting an across-the-board cut of 1.1 percent to all state programs, that maneuver stripped the MTA of $16.7 million in dedicated revenue. If this new spending cut mechanism is organized the same way, it would cost the MTA another $18.7 million. If legislators don’t exempt revenue from the MTA payroll tax, which they spared before, the impact on transit could be about twice as big. Transit advocates and City Council transportation chair Jimmy Vacca have warned state leaders not to hit transit again.

If the state does raid the MTA to plug the current budget gap, it could foreshadow even worse news for straphangers. Any damage inflicted to the MTA’s finances by this $315 million state deficit pales in comparison to the potential trainwreck of next year’s budget, in which the state is currently $9 billion short.

  • There’s one budget idea that he should take from his charming former rival Paladino: reduce the number of the cars that state employees get to use as their personal vehicles.

  • Larry Littlefield

    That $9 billion does not include local government deficits, any MTA deficits not admitted to, and the deficits caused the required increases in pension funding. And any increases in pension funding due to additional pension enhancements.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Can Andrew Cuomo Stop Albany From Raiding Transit Again?

|
Yesterday, City Council transportation committee chair Jimmy Vacca and leading transportation advocates sent a letter to New York state’s current leadership urging them not to raid the MTA’s dedicated funds to close an impending $315 million budget deficit. As long as the MTA’s finances are vulnerable to Albany incursions, transit riders will be at risk. […]

Vacca and Advocates to Albany: No More Transit Raids

|
Transit advocates and City Council transportation committee chair Jimmy Vacca are sounding the alarm about potential transit funding raids before the year is out. A $315 million hole has opened up in the state budget, and unless elected officials change the way they balance the state’s books, straphangers could end up paying for Albany’s fiscal […]