Four New York City members of Congress joined the chairman of the MTA today to bluntly denounce the House GOP’s anti-transit transportation bill.
“It’s the worst piece of legislation you could ever imagine,” said MTA chief Joe Lhota, a Republican who served as the city’s budget director during the Giuliani administration.
“The worst transportation bill we have ever seen,” agreed Representative Jerry Nadler, a liberal Democrat.
Though the Republican proposal includes a number of other reasons for New Yorkers to hate it, such as eliminating the Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements programs, which fund bicycle and pedestrian improvements, today’s presser focused on the attack on dedicated transit funding.
Currently, about 20 percent of federal gas tax revenues are devoted to transit, which provides the MTA $1 billion per year in dedicated capital funding. The transit agency gets another $400 million a year from the federal general fund. Under the Republican proposal, all transit funds would come from the general fund, where they’d have to compete with defense, health care and other spending priorities.
That $1 billion a year is absolutely necessary for the MTA to continue repairing the system and building expansions, and it could disappear entirely. Charlie Rangel, former chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which passed the anti-transit provision, said he asked influential House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan where the money to pay for transit would come from in the general fund. “The answer was they did not know at that time,” said Rangel.
The four Congress members in attendance did not mince words about the House bill. “Not even worth a warm bucket of asphalt,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Nadler said the bill exposed the attitude of the Republican Party toward transit riders: “You’re second class citizens. We don’t give a damn about you. Just disappear.”