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Andrew Cuomo

65 Albany Legislators Are Fighting Cuomo’s $65 Million Transit Funding Cut

Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz is confident he and his colleagues can restore the $65 million Cuomo wants to cut from the MTA. Photo: David Meyer

Governor Cuomo's proposed budget slashes $65 million from the state's general fund contribution to the MTA, breaking a promise he made five years ago. Now 65 Albany legislators are calling for those funds to be restored in the final budget.

The coalition includes 46 members of the Assembly Democratic majority, 17 members of the mainline Senate Democrats, and one senator each from the Republican and Independent Democratic conferences (Marty Golden and Diane Savino, respectively).

The legislators call on Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein to include the funding in the budget they will negotiate next month [PDF].

Cuomo's camp argues that the MTA is receiving $30 million more this year than last, but that's only because dedicated transit tax revenues have increased -- not because the governor decided to raise the state's contribution.

Outside the 42nd Street-Times Square subway station this morning, Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin pointed out that Cuomo is, in fact, getting stingier. "This money was promised in addition to other funding sources, not as a replacement," he said. "Governor Cuomo, in his budget, is threatening to break a promise that was made to transit riders. He is taking away money that the MTA could be using."

"The executive budget does not do right by transit riders," said Bronx rep Jeffrey Dinowitz, who chairs the Assembly committee that oversees the MTA. Assembly members Robert Carroll and Carmen de la Rosa and state senators Mike Gianaris and Brad Hoylman also spoke up at this morning's event.

With subway crowding and delays on the rise, bus speeds falling, and overall ridership dropping, Cuomo is, in effect, robbing the MTA of $65 million the agency could be using to improve service and win back riders.

"The MTA is not an agency that can afford to lose one dollar in funding or revenue," said Tri-State Transportation Campaign's Veronica Vanterpool, who also serves on the MTA board. "This is an agency that has perennial risk, and financial challenges on the horizon."

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