Yesterday afternoon, Streetsblog reporter Noah Kazis alerted to the world to a potentially crippling raid on transit funding from the good folks in Albany. As part of the looming budget discussions, the legislature could remove an additional $170 million from the MTA’s budget. Around $70 million of that would come from the partial repeal of the payroll tax, and the other $100 million would come in the form of discretionary spending. Combined with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to cut $100 million, the MTA could be staring down the wrong end of a $270 million budget hole.
Today, Jim Brennan, chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, vowed to protect the MTA’s budget. Noah Kazis reports:
According to Brennan’s legislative director, Lorrie Smith, the Assembly remains opposed to having its money be used for the MTA, but will find another source for that $100 million. “The MTA is not going to lose that money,” she said. “Mr. Brennan’s main goal here is to protect the MTA’s budget.” It is not clear, however, what the alternative source for that $100 million will be.
Smith also told us that the payroll tax exemption was not going to make it into any final budget. “The payroll tax, as I understand it, is off the table,” said Smith, “because the Assembly is adamantly opposed to it.” According to the leaked memo we reported on yesterday, the Cuomo administration is also opposed to cutting back the payroll tax in this budget.
Finally, Smith revealed that a third transit issue is keeping the transportation section of the budget from being completed: Long Island Bus, which recently cut more than half of its lines. “This is an issue that is being decided some place above us,” said Smith, who knew only that negotiations were ongoing.
Better late than never, I guess, but I’m not going to hold my breath quite yet. The state has a huge budget gap, and transit funding has always been the first to go in times of crises.