GR US

Senate Passes Gianaris Legislation Protecting MTA Funds from Being Raided

The National Herald

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. (Photo: Courtesy of Senator Michael Gianaris)

ALBANY – New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris on May 11 announced Senate passage of his legislation (S.1267) to protect MTA funds from being raided to bail out other state agencies.

“We need the MTA on the right track to propel New York’s recovery by making critical investments required for safe and reliable service,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “MTA funds should not be used to bail out other state agencies when it is already grappling with a crisis of historic proportions.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who sponsors the bill in the Assembly said, “Money allocated for mass transit must be spent on mass transit. Period. There can be no room for accounting tricks and obfuscation about where MTA money is being spent, and this legislation will put an end to this irresponsible practice once and for all. The MTA exists to help New Yorkers get around safely, affordably, and efficiently – it is not a slush fund for various government agencies that want to circumvent the standard budgeting process we go through every year.”

The legislation exempts the MTA from the requirement to reimburse the state’s general fund for services performed by other agencies. Like all state authorities, the sprawling transit agency operates with a separate balance sheet than the rest of state government. This reimbursement requirement has previously been used as a tool to bail out other state entities. Senator Gianaris first introduced his legislation after the State of New York used MTA funds to bail out the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid.

Senator Gianaris has consistently fought to shore up the transit agency’s bottom line. Most recently, he successfully advocated against raids of the MTA’s dedicated revenues in this year’s state budget.

The bill now moves to the Assembly for consideration.

Danny Pearlstein, Policy and Communications Director of the Riders Alliance said, “More than ever, funds dedicated to transit must be spent on public transit. With the MTA's finances in freefall last year, now bolstered by federal aid, and ridership far below normal, there is no excuse for robbing MTA Peter to pay Agency Paul. Riders are very grateful to Deputy Leader Gianaris and Senator Ramos for defending our money from Albany's creative accounting.”

Rachael Fauss, Senior Research Analyst for Reinvent Albany said, “Just like protecting MTA dedicated funds from raids in the state budget, we appreciate the Senate taking steps to prevent MTA resources from being diverted from transit service by passing S1267. We urge the Assembly to pick up Senator Gianaris's legislation and pass the bill in their house.”