When New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced earlier this year that he would be transferring $40 million from MTA funds to the General Debt Service Fund, many New Yorkers were extremely unhappy. Taking $40 million from the MTA and using it towards other causes would mean less money towards improving subway and bus lines, and more money coming out of commuters’ pockets.
New York State legislatures, transit advocates and subway/bus riders took to the streets on a cold March 2nd to retaliate against this “$40 million raid”, as advocates call it.
At the rally, advocates released a letter signed from more than 30 members of the State Assembly, opposing Governor Cuomo’s proposal and urging that this $40 million be transferred back to MTA funds.
“The Executive budget’s current recommendation to sweep $40 million in dedicated tax revenue to pay for a portion of debt service associated with previously issued-MTA bonds is troublesome,” says Assemblyman Jim Brennan who led the rally that Sunday. He continued, “New York is not facing a financial crisis now and dedicated taxes should fulfill their intended purposes, in this case supporting mass transit.”
State Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol spoke about these intended purposes, pointing out the various issues with the G trains that were spoken about many times this year.
“My district is serviced by only two subway lines, the G and L train – one of which is considered the ugly stepchild of the MTA. The G train has undergone service cuts in the past and although some increases in service are coming this year, they simply are not enough.”
Cuomo argues that these funds being taken out will pay debt service on the MTA’s Service Contract Bonds, but New York State already agreed to pay for these debts so the MTA wouldn’t have to and less funds would be taken out.
“Now more than ever, New York should be investing in our infrastructure and transit needs,” says Assembly Member Nily Rozic, who represents a so-called “transit desert”. The Corporations & Authorities Committee member continues, “Taking much-needed funding out of the transit budget in order to pay off debt flies in the face of and reneges on our commitment to help commuters.”