After Years of State Neglect, Governor Tells the City to Make Up the Difference

Governor Cuomo Says We Need To Pay More To Fix The Subway

Updated 47 weeks ago David Stone
Governor Cuomo Says We Need To Pay More To Fix The Subway
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

According to an exhaustive study by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York City contributed "68 percent of MTA's operating budget in FY14 while the State paid for just 4 percent. City also contributed nearly $300 million annually over the last decade in capital funding to the MTA." But to fix the subways, flubbing his way into a word salad that was hard to follow, Governor Cuomo made one thing clear, last week: New York City folks need to foot even more of the tab.

New York's Governor appoints more members to the MTA Board - six - than anyone else. He also appoints the MTA's Chairman and the NYCT Subway's head, yet Cuomo's been known to express ignorance over who's actually in charge.

"Who's in charge?" the Governor asked at the height of complaints about transit dysfunction last summer. "Who knows! Maybe the county executive, maybe the president, maybe the governor, maybe the mayor.

"If you believe I have control anyway, then it doesn't matter!" Cuomo added. "If you believe I have control with six, then you shouldn't have a problem giving me actual control. And if you have a problem giving me actual control, you know what that means? You were disingenuous when you said I had control."

Word salad, tossed, right?

Cuomo also controls the MTA budget, including the part that never puts enough into infrastructure upgrades beneath our city streets, but he favors, instead, wasteful spending at boondoggles like Midtown Access dearly loved by unions that contribute to his campaigns.

Last week, he told reporters that the solution for fixing the subways is simple: "50/50. It’s your legal obligation. Fine, we’ll go 50/50. You can’t be more reasonable than that. And by the way, the state doesn’t have more money than that."

This means that, after the State neglected the subways for so long a $38 billion, 10-year plan is needed to fix them, City taxpayers are expected to cough up half the dough.

Next, we're likely to hear about how we have to be willing to sacrifice as if it's a new experience for commuters.

Cuomo summed it up to reporters, last year, "Fundamentally, the subway is in the city, and the subway is in terrible condition. Everybody loves to say that the subway is in terrible condition, but they don't want to put their money where their mouth is, as we used to say in Queens."

As for the money, Cuomo also said "the time has come for congestion pricing" to pay for subway repairs but failed to put his money or, really, his mouth there, failing to exert much effort into getting congestion pricing through the State legislature, settling instead on a middle class tax on shared car services like Uber.

Hammered relentlessly by Cynthia Nixon over subway failures, Cuomo turned his focus on a magical act of blaming Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Somehow, all this has me thinking that nothing's going to get fixed soon, not at least as long as the blamer in chief rules Albany. We just don't have the leadership we need.

But if we could get Cuomo to invest as much energy into a subway fix as he and his followers chuck into the mechanics of generating campaign contributions, the sky could really be the limit. I wouldn't count on it though. Serving constituents in need is not Cuomo's bag when so many unions and real estate developers are already funneling huge contributions past his doorway.

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