Advocates and Unions to Cuomo: Put a Stop to Transit Raids

A broad coalition of good government groups, transit and environmental advocates, and unions sent a letter to Andrew Cuomo on Friday [PDF] urging the incoming governor to protect straphangers by ensuring that transit revenues are spent on transit.

Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo could singlehandedly save millions of transit riders from the threat of further fare hikes and service cuts. Photo: ##http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrew_Cuomo_by_Pat_Arnow_cropped.jpeg##Wikimedia##

In the last year, Albany raids have shortchanged the MTA of more than $160 million, deepening a budget crisis brought on by the recession and leading to the worst service cuts in a generation. The overwhelming majority of the plundered funds were taken from revenue sources dedicated exclusively to transit and re-directed to the state’s general fund.

Today’s letter calls on Cuomo to restore those funds and put a stop to the practice of plugging state budget gaps by raiding transit. With Albany heading into 2011 looking at a deficit bigger than $9 billion, it will take strong leadership from the governor to head off a disastrous repeat of the December 2009 budget deal that robbed the MTA of $140 million. Any surprises like that would hit straphangers hard, in all likelihood setting off another round of service cuts and fare hikes.

Cuomo has the power, on his own, to protect transit riders and preserve the integrity of transit funding. With a single directive to his staff, he can prevent dedicated MTA revenue from being siphoned off for other purposes — a policy that good government groups call “The Governor’s Locked Box.”

The Governor’s Locked Box is now shaping up to be the primary transit policy objective of 2011, with 30 groups reminding Cuomo:

You campaigned on a pledge of restoring honest and ethical government. What could be more basic to
good governance than keeping the promise to taxpayers and transit riders that dedicated transit funds be spent for the sole purpose for which they were enacted? One quarter of the state’s workforce relies on mass transit to get to work.

Cuomo officially takes office on January 1.

  • Bolwerk

    So, let’s start a pool. How many days before every shred of novelty wears off and Mario Jr. abandons all but the most mundane and non-controversial reforms?

  • “Cuomo has the power, on his own…” He can’t blame the state legislature for this one. How confident am I that he’ll man up? Let’s just say I didn’t vote for him.

  • All Blond

    Lets hope that he will remember New York for all votes we gave him.
    And that Sandra Lee Christiansen will not interfere with his promises to city just because she from country and use to ride on horseback, not on public transportation…

  • Bugg

    Figure by the end of February he will be as bad as what came beofre him, and as beholden to Sheldon Silver. Cuomo II was blessed to be opposed by a maniac. He was simply the least offensive choice.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Cuomo on MTA Raids: Transit Funds Are “Fungible”

|
WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein reports on the most troubling sign yet that Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is not willing to stop Albany’s practice of raiding dedicated transit funds to plug gaps in the state budget. From a press conference yesterday: Cuomo: “I understand the concern. Everyone — especially in a declining budget environment, where we are now, […]

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 […]

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. […]