36 Assembly Members to Cuomo: Stop Playing Games and Fund the MTA

Andrew Cuomo wants New Yorkers to think he’s taken care of the multi-billion dollar funding shortfall for the MTA capital program, even though his new budget allocates no new funds for the MTA. Well, 36 members of the Assembly aren’t buying it.

In a letter to Cuomo, Brooklyn Assembly Member Jim Brennan called on the governor to commit $1.825 billion annually over the next four years to the MTA. This would cover the $7.3 billion gap that remains in the capital program, the five-year package of critical maintenance projects and upgrades for the region’s transit system. Another 35 members of the Assembly have signed on to the letter.

In October, Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio reached an agreement in which the city would contribute $2.5 billion and the state $8.3 billion to the capital plan. The state had already allocated $1 billion of its share in previous budgets, but Cuomo’s proposed FY 2017 budget does not allocate any additional funding. Instead, it says the state will follow-through on its commitment to the capital plan only when the MTA has exhausted all other sources of funding, including loans.

Transit advocates and budget watchdogs pointed out that Cuomo was not making a real commitment, and that his stalling tactics could lead to excessive borrowing or a slowdown of necessary work on the capital program.

“Funding the Capital Plan immediately would also eliminate the budget provision requiring the MTA to exhaust all other available money before State funding becomes available, decreasing the uncertainties that have led to capital projects falling behind schedule and going over budget,” Brennan’s letter says.

In response, Cuomo spokesperson Beth DeFalco repeated the party line to the Daily News. “There is no additional new appropriation in the budget because the MTA does not need it now,” she said. “However, there is very clear and direct legislation in the governor’s budget that makes the commitment to fund the Capital Program a matter of law — and provides in iron-clad language that the state funds will be available whenever the MTA needs it.”

But there’s nothing very “iron-clad” about the current arrangement, since it allows Cuomo to avoid dedicating funds to the current MTA capital plan until he is no longer in office.

“The Governor is trying to deploy a bait-and-switch tactic of promising riders billions, then quietly putting in zero in the actual budget,” said Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin. “This letter is the Assembly saying: let’s keep the promise that was made to transit riders.”

  • Mark Walker

    Kudos to the assembly members. I’m impressed that 36 of them got together on this and it demonstrates the seriousness of the situation. But at the risk of repeating myself, Cuomo’s transit policy — and it is a policy — is not to fund transit. And this means that he is not fundamentally serious about governing. He’s as bad as Christie. May it come back to haunt him later.

  • bolwerk

    The indifference of regular New Yorkers toward this stuff is appalling. These neoliberal types present themselves as budget gurus and economic mavericks, but what they really are is a group of pillagers. It’d literally be better to just hike taxes and pay for it the capital plan, along with whatever autocentric trash Cuomo wants, than to kick the can down the road minimal effort backed by borrowing. They’re telling millions of people that it’s not very important for them to have mobility.

    I guess national electorates are starting to notice a little. The rise of people like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders is precisely because a lot of people want renewed focus on stable jobs and less obsession with mindless cutting. Hell, even Trump, authoritarian thug that he is, is indicative of that.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Ok Brennan, so are you going to propose a source of the $1.825 billion, plus the additional money needed to get the road and bridge fund and pension funds etc. out of the hole? Real cash money, not more borrowing?

    And it doesn’t happen, are you going to vote “no” on the budget?

    I asked you that 12 years ago, remember? I ran against him last time. Who runs against him this time if he doesn’t vote no? Who runs against the rest of them? All of them.

    Who knows? If he does vote no, I might vote for him for only the second time since 1986.

  • Anon resident

    Still waiting for Cuomo to comment on the GW Bridge closing. This is a good start, but we need to get Cuomo out of his SUV and get him on a train. Does he know there is a train station right near his home in Mt. Kisco?

  • anon

    Cuomo and DiBlasio both need to start riding the subway. Even two rides during a typical rush hour will show what is going on and how critical this is.

  • JerichoWhiskey

    Credit to De Blasio, he has rode on it and has increased funding towards it. Cuomo is the trouble maker here.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The trouble already exists, and the politicians would pay a price to show the leadership to solve it rather than close their eyes and make it go away.

    Cuomo has been unwilling to do that. Was there a source of money, a tax increase or spending cut, associated with the Assembly request for money for transit?

    Trump and Sanders. Something for nothing. We’ve had it. Now somebody has to tell people, even those who got few if any of the benefits, it is time to pay the bill.


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