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 out of commuters’ pockets, opponents argue.
Elected officials, transit advocates and commuters took to the streets on a cold March 2 to retaliate against this “$40 million raid.”
“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,” said Assemblyman Jim Brennan, who led the rally. “New York is not facing a financial crisis now and dedicated taxes should fulfill their intended purposes, in this case supporting mass transit.”
At the rally, advocates released a letter signed by more than 30 members of the Assembly, opposing Governor Cuomo’s proposal and urging that the money be transferred back to MTA funds.
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol pointed out the many issues with the G train, an ongoing issue in North Brooklyn.
“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,” Lentol said. “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 the money will be used to pay debt service on the MTA’s Service Contract Bonds, but the state already agreed to pay the debt so the MTA wouldn’t have to.
“Now more than ever, New York should be investing in our infrastructure and transit needs,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who represents what she called a “transit desert” in northeast Queens.
“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,” she said.