On Friday, a powerful state assemblyman proposed a new plan to help the MTA fill its $14 billion shortfall in its capital program. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Albany lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo have been silent on how to fill a staggering $14 billion shortfall in the MTA's capital program to maintain the mass transit system. Until Friday.
Brooklyn Democrat Jim Brennan, chairman of the Assembly's Committee on Authorities and Commissions, piped up with a proposal to help rescue the subway, which is struggling under the weight of record ridership.
"Everybody knows there is a funding crisis. So we have to push the legislature and the governor to tackle the problem," Brennan said. "This is an effort to avoid running away from a problem. That's what we're doing."
He's calling for borrowing $20 billion, and paying the bonds off by raising the state gas tax 10 cents a gallon and hiking the income tax on those earning more than $500,000. His proposal also calls on City Hall to hike its yearly payment for mass transit, roads and bridges by $60 million after one year and $300 million after five years.
"We're creating a financial vehicle for the state government to borrow money and then turn the money over to the MTA for its regular construction program," Brennan said.
That program seeks to replace subway cars, repair stations, improve tracks and signals, and continue the Second Avenue Subway project.
In the past, however, Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to hike taxes on the rich to pay for pre-kindergarten and failed. And AAA said drivers are already heavily taxed and that the state has borrowed enough.
Without full funding, the MTA could be forced to scale back its ambitious spending plans or take on billions more in debt, resulting in even more fare and toll increases for riders and drivers.
Transit advocates praised Brennan for trying to limit how much more riders must pay.
"The most important thing for riders is to make sure that we're not bearing the brunt of the costs, especially the most low-income riders, who have no other option but the subways and buses," said Nick Sifuentes of Riders Alliance.
Which keep millions of New Yorkers moving, but only if the money's there.