MTA Head Joseph Lhota Makes Statement

When it comes to financing the MTA, the agency is always at odds with our elected officials whether it be those in Albany or those in New York City. MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota currently is sending his anger towards NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio with this statement:

We know the mayor has always been more comfortable with political rhetoric rather than governing, but his mistruths about the MTA and his disregard for the riders is growing. Here are the facts:

Under the law, the City is required to fund the capital needs of NYC Transit Authority. The law goes back to 1953, and was reiterated in 1981. He should read the law. It is also clear, however, that the City is fully protected as it has sole approval of the NYCTA Capital Plan above $5 million. The City owns NYCTA, it pays for whatever capital improvements it approves and the MTA manages it. The Fix NYC report details this analysis.

However, despite the law, the State has committed a record $8.6 billion – triple the city’s contribution – to the capital program. This year the State fully funds its $429 million share – 50% – of the Subway Action Plan.

In spite of the state’s record investments and as a diversion to their own lack of funding, New York City continues to allege the state diverted $456 million of State aid intended for the MTA since 2011. The allegation is blatantly false. Every dollar of that funding went to the MTA.

Of the $456 million cited by the City, $235 million went to pay debt service on MTA bonds, $169 million was allocated for direct Capital Aid to the MTA (which freed up MTA operating resources), and $30 million went to the MTA in additional operating aid. The final $22 million was savings to the MTA by eliminating capital projects dictated by the legislature but paid for anyway in MTA State funding.

But the issue the City raises is just a distraction. The City does not want to fix or fund to fix the MTA.

The Mayor has been consistent and repeated his political mantra for months: “the State owes $456 million and I want a millionaire’s tax.”

The City refuses to fund the Emergency Action Plan on a 50/50 basis which is equitable and only fair.

The City says it is opposed to the “value added” MTA financing proposal using property tax revenue. That is their prerogative. The value added proposal is subject to their approval anyway so there is no issue. If they don’t want to do it, then they shouldn’t do it. It is ironic that the greatest mayoral improvement in the City in recent years was Mayor Bloomberg’s West Side subway line funded precisely with property taxes, but it’s up to the City.

With no help from the City, Con Edison has done extensive work for months to upgrade the old failing electrical system in the subway. It is a major cause of delays and service disruptions – as proved by the millions of dollars of new equipment they are installing.

The millionaire’s tax is a great sound bite for the political world but is a nonstarter in the real world. It has been a legislative nonstarter since the Mayor’s first month in office when he proposed it for Pre K, which the Governor funded for the City, when the millionaire’s tax died a quick death. Obviously, for him facts don’t matter.

Again, this is all a diversion. The City claims no financial responsibility for the subway system that it owns and polices and is the lifeblood of the City’s economy.

The Mayor’s answer is simple – and he should just say it – he doesn’t want to fund the subways and help riders. So be it.

I side with Mr. Lhota here as NYC has long looked for any excuse to not properly fund the MTA. Instead the clown de Blasio looks for any chance to throw out his idiotic rhetoric & talking points that talk to the misinformed. When you confront him with facts, the topic gets dropped instantly. NYC residents deserve what they get for letting this clown get another term he clearly did not deserve.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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