MTA Chief “Very Concerned” About More State Cuts
There’s a lot of pain all around in Gov. David Paterson’s $134 billon state budget plan released Tuesday. Some of it will fall on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which would get $104 million less than had been expected.
Jay Walder, the MTA chairman and chief executive, reacted to the budget with a statement that he was “very concerned” about the reduction of the aid.
The plan reduces the aid coming from the state to about $4.13 billion from $4.23 billion.
It may not sound like much in the MTA’s $11 billion budget, but the agency is already planning measures to fill a budget hole of several million dollars. That includes stopping free bus and subway rides, other service cuts and 10 percent pay cuts for the administration.
At the same time, Walder, named to his position several months, just announced some areas where the nation’s largest transit giant could be more efficient, partly by continuing the imperfect consolidation of smaller tansit agencies into the MTA’s current configuration. An example he gave was the 92 information phone lines and five call centers scattered throughout the agency.
Here’s his statement on the budget:
“The proposed Executive Budget Governor Paterson presented today reflects a further deterioration in the tax revenues dedicated to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. This continued erosion of the MTA’s revenue base amounts to $104 million in this calendar year. We continue to be very concerned about the impact of current economic conditions on the revenues dedicated to the MTA, including the recently enacted payroll mobility tax. The continued uncertainty about the economy underscores the necessity of the course I’ve set for the MTA.
“As I have often said, MTA must use every dollar that it receives from taxes, fares and tolls as efficiently and effectively as possible. That is why we are undertaking a fundamental restructuring of the way that the MTA does business. To that end, we have begun to dramatically reduce our administrative costs. We are renegotiating contracts with suppliers. We are re-evaluating how we provide service.
“I know that the Governor and the Legislature are acutely aware of the MTA’s importance to the economy of the New York City region and the MTA’s positive economic impact on the rest of the Empire State. I appreciate that the Governor’s Executive Budget does not repeat the MTA cuts enacted in the Deficit Reduction Plan in December. During this budget process, we will continue to work with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to better understand the issues related to the dedicated taxes that support the MTA.”