The MTA takes in $5.5 billion a year just in various dedicated taxes. This does not include tolls and fares. Think about it: $5.5 billion just in taxes. Surcharges are taxes. Fees are taxes. There are whole states that do not spend that much. Yet, we are told the MTA needs more money for infrastructure. So, where is the money going?
I wrote last week how our elected officials bargain against us in contract negotiations. Since Andrew Cuomo became governor, the MTA budget increased from $12.3 billion to $15.7 billion. Payroll alone increased 26 percent, even though inflation was only 11 percent. Almost half of all monies collected goes to pension and benefit costs. Like in the private sector, payroll is the biggest cost of doing business. But 26 percent more? And 15 percent more than inflation? Now they want more?
Well, for one, Gov. Cuomo is spending $350 million to install color-changing lights on all seven MTA operated bridges. The MTA screams “we need money,” yet the governor thinks spending on the luxury of color-changing lights is a good thing—$350 million for a light show.
The answer is not more funding. Even the governor admitted that back in July when no one was paying attention. Now that we are paying attention, he wants to soak the commuter again with congestion pricing and tolls over the East River bridges. However, back in August, the governor’s handpicked new head of the MTA, Joe Lhota, when asked how the money they are getting is being spent, after he admitted that the MTA only has at its disposal 22 percent of their monies collected for infrastructure and repairs, said he does not know on what that money is being spent.
Any more increases in taxes and fees for the MTA must be approved by Albany. You must demand of your assembly and senate representatives that they get a full accounting of where the dedicated monies they already get is going. If the MTA only has control over 22 percent of the monies, where is the other 78 percent going? I would wager that at least 30 percent of that has been wasted. If there is no accounting, it is entirely possible.
Instead of worrying about street naming and more anti-opioid laws, all the while making it harder for the federal government to protect the southern border where those opioids are entering, maybe our Albany representatives should do some actual heavy lifting and throw the curtain back on where our money that the MTA collects is really going. We need a full accounting and we should demand it before we are saddled with more taxes and new tolls.
We are not a bottomless pit of money. The MTA should be made to be aware of that fact.
Have you noticed all the stories relating to this latest scandal regarding Harvey Weinstein? If so, you have seen the names Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump, but not Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy. Why? Easy. It is because it does not fit the narrative that only Republicans and conservatives are anti-women.
This is what I say. What say you?