State Senate on Transit Funding Meltdown: It Wasn’t Us

After omitting bridge tolls from last spring’s transit funding package, then raiding the "piggy bank" to the tune of $143 million, Albany’s neglect of the MTA has left millions of transit-dependent New Yorkers in the lurch. Yet lawmakers have shown no inclination to get to work patching the agency’s ever-widening budget hole, much less coming up with a viable long-term fiscal solution. Quite the opposite.

senatetools_voice.jpgSens. Kruger, Diaz Sr. and Espada, three of the Fare Hike Four, giving transit riders the business. Photo: AP/Voice

As once-planned "doomsday" service cuts expected to be approved this week were put back on the table, Senate Dems attempted to evade responsibility by deflecting and projecting. Said Fare Hike Four mastermind Carl Kruger, as quoted in the Observer:

"Our ability to budget is only as good as our ability to forecast. We were dependent upon data supplied by the Office of Management and Budget with the understanding that it was verified by the MTA’s own fiscal staff. Furthermore, our projections were based on the fiscal year rather than the calendar year. This critical point should have been taken into account when the MTA fiscal staff developed its parameters."

Insisting that the new payroll tax will someday do the job, Senate spokesman Austin Shafran accused the MTA of employing scare tactics, while transportation committee chair Martin Malave Dilan lashed out at the new transit chief, then in his ninth week on the job. Again, from the Observer:

[Dilan] is angry that the M.T.A. didn’t say anything about its sudden $343 million deficit sooner.

"It is an affront to our burgeoning partnership, often discussed in previous months, to exclude us from this critical information," Dilan wrote in a letter to M.T.A. CEO Jay Walder. "It appears, even under new leadership, that business will continue as usual with Gary Dellaverson assuming the addition[al] role of press secretary for the MTA. Instead of a cooperative exchange of thoughts and information, we may be left with an adversarial relationship played out in the press."

So, who’s going to hold these pols to account? Probably not the Working Families Party, whose latest online petition amplifies the MTA-bashing of Kruger and company. The governor, meanwhile, looks to be sitting it out altogether as the engine of the region’s economy is threatened with a massive breakdown.

Will any state legislator step up and show some leadership at this critical moment? Eric Schneiderman? Dan Squadron? Liz Krueger? John Sampson? Anyone?