Cuomo, De Blasio Spar Over MTA Funding


Today, Governor Cuomo of New York released a new plan aimed at improving New York City’s troubled subway system. That plan involves asking local businesses to “adopt” individual subway stations and pay for enhanced maintenance. The idea sparked immediate criticism from New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who fired off an email to reporters suggesting that the state could cover improvement costs on its own.

“New York State commits itself to fund 50 percent of the plan. Why? Because it’s smart. Mass-transit is the city’s circulatory system. You slow down the subway system, you slow down the blood flow in this city. That’s why it’s smart,” the Governor said during a breakfast presentation hosted by the Association For A Better New York.

Cuomo’s statements follow the release of a more detailed transit plan unveiled by recently appointed MTA Chairman Joe Lhota on Wednesday. In that plan, $836 million will be spent by the state to fund immediate short-term repairs and hopefully improve service. Another $8 billion is being proposed for long-term repairs.

At the breakfast, Cuomo called on the city to commit more money to the subway system. Shortly after his remarks, Mayor De Blasio issued a statement of his own noting that money for emergency subway repairs was already in the state budget. In an email to reporters, the Mayor’s office pointed out that $456 million of operating money earmarked for MTA riders has been diverted to the MTA so far this year. The Mayor added that Governor Cuomo’s claim that the state had already contributed $5 billion for MTA operations was false because it includes $4.7 billion in dedicated taxes for MTA riders from the MTA region. $2.9 million of that came from New York City residents specifically.

New York City’s mass transit system – the largest in the US – has been plagued by daily and ever worsening failures, causing significant delays and reroutings. Governor Cuomo and the Mayor have been involved in a prolonged personal battle over whether repairs should be funded entirely by the state or through a joint city/state funding commitment. By law, Cuomo is responsible for and in control of New York’s share of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), the multi-state supervisory body that manages transit in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Video of Governor Cuomo’s remarks is below –