Home MTA Economics State again reappropriates dedicated transit funds

State again reappropriates dedicated transit funds

by Benjamin Kabak

Earlier this week, the MTA released its September 2010 Budgetwatch Monthly Flash Report — available here as a PDF — and against it appears as though New York State has taken dedicated funds from the Authority. Here’s what the report says on the first page of the authority’s overall latest conditions:

August monthly passenger revenue was on target while toll revenue was slightly higher by 1.1%. On a YTD basis, passenger revenue was slightly unfavorable by -0.4% and toll revenue was slightly favorable by 0.4%. Operating expenses were less than Forecast by $16.6 million, or 2.5%, for the month and 72.3 million, or 1.2%, on a YTD basis, reflecting vacancy savings, favorable timing, and lower energy, health and welfare, and OTPS costs. In addition, Overtime savings have exceeded the reductions that were included in the Mid-Year Forecast. Debt Service costs were 2% favorable due to timing.

YTD PMT receipts were better than the forecast by $35.8 million or 3.5%, while YTD MTA Aid receipts were $55.5 million or 23.5% unfavorable. September combined real estate tax receipts of $34.9 million were $4.3 million, or 10.9%, below the Mid-Year Forecast. YTD, real estate tax receipts were $13.9 million, or 4.5%, unfavorable.

The latest funding cuts by New York State, the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) cuts, effective September 15, 2010, are reducing dedicated taxes and subsidies earmarked for the MTA in NYS’ Budget by $16.7 million in 2010.

The FMAP fund is a bit of a bureaucratic twist and turn. In New York State, the governor can cut medical care expenditures if it does not receive other federal monies, and that, it appears, is exactly what happened here. The state expected $1 billion in FMAP money, didn’t get it and has now removed $16.7 million in taxes and subsidies previously earmarked for the MTA.

The timing of these cuts is incredibly circumspect. Albany took money from transit riders to balance its budget at contemporaneously with the MTA’s fare hike hearings. While politicians were railing on the MTA for raising fares, they were taking more money away from the transit system. Why, I ask, should the city’s transit riders pay when Albany receives fewer federal funds than they originally — and foolishly — expected to?

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