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Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Wants to Pay Less for Transit While Riders Pay More

Some state lawmakers have come out swinging against Andrew Cuomo's $65 million MTA funding cut.

Under Cuomo’s draft budget, the MTA would receive $65 million less from the state’s general fund than it did in 2016, while riders chip in about $300 million more via the upcoming fare hike.

The governor's office says revenue from other sources more than make up for the loss. Interim MTA chief Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim repeated that line in Albany yesterday, the Daily News reports.

"Our financial plan ... is certainly able to maintain itself based on this budget without any further service cuts or fare or toll increases," Hakim said in budget hearing testimony.

This argument obscures the fact that one reason the MTA will be able to maintain service is that transit riders are about to pay more for a MetroCard.

The upcoming fare hike is expected to raise about $300 million annually. That means more than 20 percent of the additional farebox revenue will get vacuumed up by Cuomo if the final state budget follows his blueprint and reduces the general fund contribution by $65 million. In other words, transit riders will pay more so Cuomo can pay less.

A few New York City representatives in Albany are making noise about the governor's transit funding cut.

Bronx Assembly Member Jeff Dinowitz “argued the MTA would likely be able to boost services if it received the money,” the News reported.

"New Yorkers are already frustrated with the lack of good public transportation options, fare increases, and unreliable service," said State Senator Michael Gianaris in a statement. "A cut in MTA funding would make this situation even worse for our city’s subway and bus riders. The proposed budget must be improved and appropriate funds must be provided in order make needed improvements."

It's up to the Assembly and the State Senate to restore the $65 million in budget negotiations. More NYC representatives will have to speak up to prevent Cuomo from balancing the budget on the backs of transit riders.

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