It’s crunch time for the state budget, and so far Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has not said a word about undoing the $40 million MTA raid in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget, even though 32 Assembly members have called on Cuomo to restore the funds [PDF].
Cuomo’s budget proposal shifts $40 million in bond obligations to the MTA, reneging on the state’s earlier promise to pay off the debt from its general fund. The cost-shifting sets a precedent that could cost the MTA nearly $350 million over the life of the bonds. That’s money the agency won’t have to expand service.
Last year, when Cuomo snuck a $20 million raid into the state budget, the Republican-led State Senate actually removed the provision from its proposal, but the Silver-led Assembly did not, and it was ultimately enacted.
Now the Assembly and the State Senate are putting the finishing touches on this year’s budget proposals, and Silver, who leads a caucus with dozens of members opposed to Cuomo’s transit raid, is the logical person to put a stop to it. So far, though, no word from Shelly.
Silver’s Manhattan Assembly district neighbors — Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried — have both signed on to the letter opposed to the transit raid. But the speaker’s office has not returned a request to comment.
“When Albany takes money out of the transit budget, riders end up paying more,” said Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin. “Transit riders need both the Senate and the Assembly to stand up for us in the budget process.”
The Assembly and the Senate are expected to submit budget proposals in the middle of next week, with the actual dollars and cents getting hammered out as soon as today. If the Assembly speaker who represents transit-rich Lower Manhattan won’t stop Cuomo from raiding transit, who will?