First Look: Transit Money Getting Shuffled Around in Cuomo’s Budget

Governor Cuomo is coming out with his draft budget today, and some sort of transit funding raid is expected to be included in the package. The press release from his budget office includes these details about MTA funding:

The Executive Budget also provides a modest increase in cash operating support for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of $43 million, bringing total cash operating support to $3.8 billion, and for other transit systems of $2 million, bringing their combined total to $401 million.

Although the budget also provides $100 million to the MTA’s capital program from redirected economic development funds, it also proposes using $165 million of Metropolitan Mass Transportation Operating Assistance Account funds to pay debt services on State bonds previously issued for the MTA capital program that otherwise would be paid from the General Fund and transferring $35 million in MMTOA funds to the General Fund.

My non-expert and unofficial reading of this is that there’s $143 million on the positive side of the ledger for the MTA, and $200 million on the negative side, for a net loss of $57 million. Other interpretations welcome in the comments.

Note that only a very small fraction of the $3.8 billion “cash operating support” figure actually comes from the state’s general fund — the overwhelming majority comes from dedicated transit revenue streams like the payroll mobility tax.

It’s possible that other budget actions affecting the MTA were not enumerated in the press release. We’ll have more on these developments throughout the day.

UPDATE: The full briefing book on the executive budget is viewable here, for those inclined to dig into it.

  • mfs

    Your interpretation is accurate. The $200m value at the end should read as -$200m.

    P. 90:
    Transit Fund Actions. The Executive Budget proposes using $165 million of
    Metropolitan Mass Transportation Operating Assistance Account (MMTOA) funds to pay debt service on State bonds previously issued for the MTA capital program that otherwise would be paid from the State’s General Fund. MMTOA receives portions of transportation related taxes and fees and is used to support operating aid for the MTA and other transit systems in the 12-county MTA district. In addition, $35 million of MMTOA funds derived from statewide revenues will be transferred to the General Fund. In order to help the MTA manage the impact of these actions, the Executive Budget proposes redirecting $100 million of existing economic development capital funds to
    the MTA capital program. (2011-12 Value: $200 million; 2012-13 Value: $0)

  • Looking at the net loss is deceptive though, since the operating budget is taking a significant hit, while the capital budget is getting an infusion.

  • Larry Littlefield

    After protests about the state defunding the MTA in the 2000 to 2004 capital plan, it added a small state component to the 2005 to 2009 capital plan. That money, of course, was borrowed via an off balance sheet entity.

    Now the dedicated MTA taxes will be used to pay the interest on that debt. Meaning in addition to not funding the current capital plan, the state is taking back the money it provided to the 2005 to 2009 capital plan. Thus revealing to those not paying attention that no money was provided from 2005 to 2009, just more debt.

    And, I believe, a 1/8 cent sales tax increase was imposed on the MTA service area to service that state debt. So I guess they are just keeping the higher sales tax, which New Yorkers were paying forever for maintenance in the past, but will now pay forever while also paying for maintenace in the past a second time.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The state will also continue to impose an income tax of $0 on the retirement and Social Security of former public employees, while exempting Social Security and some of the retirement income (at certain ages) for former private sector workers.

    No matter how high that income is. So an early retiree could have an income double or triple or quintiple a struggling working family, and still pay less (actually nothing) in state income taxes.

    And the state will provide zero municipal aid to New York City, while continuing to provide such aid to other municipalities that are poorer than New York City, on the grounds that NYC aid was cut last year so the city is used to it.

  • Regna

    Larry, that sales tax is part of MMTOA, which is going to pay interest on those state bonds.

  • Duessy37

    I find it very disturbing that when the average person does the math………….it does not add up. NYCT/MABSTOA, sends to the state of new york an amount of money that is so obscene the everyday transit rider has no clue. How does 20,000,000,000 a year sound to you………….and they can’t seem to give the M T A a decent operating budget without having to raid it every year to cover something else. Our fares are going up so far 3 times in 3 years.

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