For much of the past decade, Richard Brodsky had been in charge of a legislative check on the MTA. As head of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, the Westchester Democrat had oversight power over the MTA and made sure to use his bully pulpit to push the authority toward improvement. He was, however, anti-congestion pricing, and while his good government initiatives should be applauded, he didn’t have a great grip on the financial picture. He stepped down to run an unsuccessful campaign for Attorney General, and James Brennan, a 27-year committee vet from Brooklyn, took his place.
This week, The Bond Buyer sat down for an interview with Brennan, and he talked about his oversight philosophy. So far, he’s saying all the right things when it comes to transit. “I’m a devoted supporter of mass transit because it’s the backbone of the metropolitan area,” he said. “The MTA’s got major capital budget shortfalls going forward which we’re probably not going to deal with right now.”
Recognizing that the MTA’s current financial model which relies heavily on real estate tax revenue cannot support something as necessary as the subways, Brennan is willing to look outside of the box. In fact, he was a congestion pricing supporter a few years back but didn’t mention specifics in the interview. “Real estate transactions have proven to be too volatile a financing source for them and they’re going to need something going forward that’s more stable,” he said. Brennan certainly does, as one member of the Citizens Budget Commission said have “big shoes to fill,” but for now, it sounds as though he’s up to the task. That’s welcome news indeed from Albany.