Transit advocates and elected officials are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to restore what they say is a $65 million cut to the MTA budget, but the Cuomo administration claims it's actually increasing transit funding this year. Zack Fink reports.
Transit advocates say Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to cut the MTA budget by $65 million.
"That has a real impact on transit riders. But even worse, if we end up cutting that money this year, the temptation is going to be there in the future to cut it even further." said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of the Bronx.
In 2011, the governor and state lawmakers cut the payroll mobility tax, which had been contributing $1.5 billion to the MTA. It was reduced to $1.2 billion.
State leaders, including the governor, promised to make up the loss with an infusion of $309 million, and they have done so every year until now, when Cuomo proposed just $244 million in his executive budget.
The Cuomo administration disputes this, arguing they actually increased funding.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Cuomo administration says, "Enough with the grandstanding and misleading theatrics. It's an indisputable fact that the state is providing $30 million more in operating funds to the MTA this year - we're happy to help anyone do the math."
"When the debate over MTA funding is whether it is being cut or not, the straphangers have alreday lost. Because we should be talking about how much we are adding to the MTA budget," said state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens. "This is a system that is getting stressed more and more by the day."
Transit riders say the real problem is that service is diminishing, and if anything, the system needs to more investment.
"My community, everytime I walk down the street, is telling me services is deteriorating, as we heard," said Assemblywoman Carmen de la Rosa of Manhattan. "Wait times are increasing, and the amount of time that stops are skipped in my district is increasing."
What the final figure looks like remains to be seen. State budget negotiations begin in earnest this week. The budget is due at the end of March.