Widening Coalition Calls Out Cuomo for Abandoning Transit

Anger over Governor Cuomo’s disregard for transit riders during this week’s special session continues to grow. Since yesterday, two new organizations have signed on to a letter calling out the governor for neutering transit lockbox legislation that the State Assembly and State Senate had passed unanimously. The League of Women’s Voters of New York City and the Center for Working Families are the new signatories.

The governor who abandoned transit. Michael Nagle/Getty Images via Times Union

By taking out disclosure requirements triggered by future Albany raids on dedicated transit funds, Cuomo “eviscerated” the bill, as a staffer for Assembly sponsor Jim Brennan told Streetsblog. Cuomo’s lockbox play came on top of his deal with the Senate Republicans to cut the MTA payroll tax by $320 million a year, money which the MTA may or may not ever see reimbursed.

The lockbox letter highlights the broad coalition dismayed by Cuomo’s abandonment of his ostensible commitments to transit and good government. Read it in full, and see the list of supporters, below:

Amalgamated Transit Union
NYS Council of Machinists
Center for Working Families
NY League of Conservation Voters
Citizens Committee for NYC
Reinvent Albany
Common Cause/ NY
Straphangers Campaign NYPIRG
General Contractors Association
Transportation Alternatives
League of Women Voters City of NY
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
League of Women Voters NY State
TWU Local 100
Natural Resources Defense Council

STATEMENT ON NULLIFICATION OF “TRANSIT LOCK BOX” LEGISLATION

December 8, 2011

Our groups are disappointed that Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority leader Skelos
and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver used this special session to effectively nullify
the provisions of the transit “lock box” bill that was overwhelmingly passed during
the regular session. We thank State Senator Marty Golden and Assembly member
Jim Brennan for their leadership sponsoring the original bill.

The original legislation made it more difficult for the governor to unilaterally divert
MTA dedicated transit funds, and required an impact statement detailing the effects
on transit service if dedicated funds were taken. The “lockbox” bill (S.4257C/A.
6766C) was a reaction to the diversion of $260 million in dedicated transit funds
over the last three years. These diversions contributed to the worst metropolitan-
area transit service cuts in memory.

We do not support the substitute legislation passed in this special session. It does
not constrain future raids on transit funds, and deletes the requirement that the
impacts of the diversion of transit dedicated funds be reported.

The strong principle of the original legislation – that MTA dedicated transit funds
should be spent on transit, attracted a wide range of supporters, listed below, and
editorial endorsements from the New York Times and Crain’s.

Groups endorsing the now nullified “Transit Lockbox” Bill:

Amalgamated Transit Union, ATU Local 726, ATU Local 1056, ATU Local 1179
ATU Local 1181-1061, American Council of Engineering Companies of New York
Asian Americans for Equality, Center for Working Families, Citizens Committee for NYC,
Common Cause/NY, Construction Industry Council, CUNY Institute for Urban Systems,
DC 37, DC 37 Local 375B, DC37 Local 1655, Empire State Transportation Alliance,
Environmental Defense Fund, General Contractors Association of New York, League of
Women Voters of the City of NY, League of Women Voters of New York State, Long Island
Contractors’ Association, Inc. (LICA), MTA Coalition of Unions, National Conference of
Firemen and Oilers, New York Building Congress, NY League of Conservation Voters,
NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, NYS Council of Machinists, NY State Legislative Conference
Board, NYS Transportation Equity Alliance, PCAC to MTA, Pratt Center for Community
Development, Regional Plan Association, Reinvent Albany, Teamsters Local 808, Transit
Riders Action Committee, Transportation Alternatives, TWU Local 100, TWU Local 252,
TWU Local2001, TWU Local 2054, Transport Workers International Union of America, Tri-
State Transportation Campaign, UPROSE, We Act for Environmental Justice, Women’s City Club.