TSTC: Cuomo Budget Would Raid $20 Million From the MTA

If you thought Albany had gotten over the habit of raiding the MTA for cash, think again.

Photo: ##http://www.governor.ny.gov/sl2/bio##Governor's Office##

Nadine Lemmon at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign reports that there’s a $20 million transit raid lurking in Governor Cuomo’s 2013 executive budget:

This $20 million diversion of funds comes from a pot of money that is statutorily dedicated to cover the operating needs of the MTA. The Executive Budget, however, declared that this $20 million diversion is “surplus,” but there is no explanation of  how funds are determined to be surplus.

The 2013 transit raid isn’t as big as other recent Albany raids, which were $100 million or larger. And unlike the 2009 raid it won’t lead to service cuts, since the MTA’s dedicated tax revenues are beating projections. Still, that’s $20 million the MTA won’t have to restore service.

This explains why Cuomo didn’t enact the transit lockbox bill that advocates pushed for in 2011: He still wants to use the MTA as a piggy bank when it suits him.

Transit raids can be tough to pick out amidst all the budgetese, and the way the Cuomo administration cloaked this year’s theft looks especially sneaky. Lemmon flagged it last week in this language in the budget proposal:

“The Budget will use surplus mass transportation operating assistance funds to pay for a portion of the debt service associated with previously issued MTA service contract bonds. (2013-14 Value: $20 million; 2014-15 Value: $0).”

What the budget summary doesn’t say is that the state’s general fund would have paid this $20 million if the administration hadn’t stepped in and diverted the MTA’s $20 million. How transparent!

As Lemmon points out, the transit lockbox bill would have compelled the Cuomo administration to disclose the raid and explain its impacts on the MTA. The way things stand, the governor can continue to sweep it all under the rug.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Let’s see if anyone picks this up.  And perhaps starts a discussion about the next capital plan.

  • Mark Walker

    This is a trial balloon. Governor Muscle Car is floating it to see if anyone will notice. If he gets away with it, there will be more and larger raids. And he might get away with it: Many voteres don’t even know that the MTA is a state agency.

  • Larry Littlefield

    A little history.  After the damage from the debt-ridden 2000-04 MTA Capital Plan became obvious, the state legislature had a brainstorm for 2005 to 2009.  Let the state borrow some of the money instead!

    Not that the whole state would pay the debt back.  Just the MTA service area, with a 1/8 cent sales tax increase.  Part of that regressive tax, only collected downstate, will not go into the general fund, to be spent somewhere.  Because the MTA has some extra revenues from its regressive, retired person and hedge fund manager excluding payroll tax.

    So what is Aseemblyman Jim Brennan’s great idea to fund the next MTA capital plan?  Fess up that we’re screwed, and have everyone pay more and accept less? Not until his generation gets to Florida.  The brainstorm is to have the state borrow instead of the MTA, so the MTA will have less debt.

    The same stuff goes around and around up in Albany.  And then down, like a toilet flushing.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Part of that tax will NOW go into the general fund (ugh).

  • Bolwerk

    I love how our elections work. If a competitive Republikan is run, the Democrats run a right-wing ideologue to try to gouge votes from him.  Yet when the Republikans nominated a Bellevue inmate, the Democrats just let an even bigger right-winger run on his daddy’s name without having to bother even telling anyone what his positions were. (Oh, except for some faux librul cred on gay marriage, which really falls under the “uncontroversial” category in NYS.)

  • Anonymous

    Cuomo is a real piece of work.  Can we get a real candidate for 2016?  At this point I’ll vote for the Rent Is Too Damn High guy if he runs again.

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