NYS Budget Passed: What’s in Store for Transportation?

New York State legislators were still voting on budget bills after Tuesday’s midnight deadline and into the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Messages of necessity were issued in order to enable the claim of an “on time” budget, and reams of paper went unread by legislators and staff. According to Senator Kemp Hannon, the allocations for capital projects were still being discussed about 24 hours before votes were cast.

The details are still murky, but here’s what we’ve gleaned so far on transportation:

Transit

There were some wins for upstate transit, but the biggest punt for future negotiations was how to fund the MTA’s 5-year capital program. (Hat tip to New York Public Transit Association for this very helpful summary of transit in the budget):

Transit Operating Assistance

  • An additional $10 million in operating assistance for upstate transit systems (which represents a 5.6 percent increase over Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget, but substantially less than the $25 million in need identified).
  • The budget does not include a long-term structural fix to the ongoing dilemma of decreasing revenues in the upstate operating accounts.
  • No additional operating funds for downstate, non-MTA systems.
  • The MTA received an additional $11.3 million to make up for lost Staten Island toll revenue and to perform a study of the Kingsbridge Road subway station.
  • $20 million in MTA operating funds diverted once again.

Capital Assistance

  • $121.5 million taken from downstate Mass Transit Operating Assistance, and put into a new capital account, despite pushback from downstate legislators and transit operators.
  • An additional $15 million allocated for upstate capital projects (substantially less than the $100 million plus needed for the proposed capital plan), and $5 million of New York Works funds for non-MTA systems.
  • The MTA’s capital program received $750 million, plus $250 million for four new Metro North stations in the Bronx.
  • $20 million for a statewide rail program.

Bank Settlement Funds

The $5.4 billion in bank settlement money went largely as Governor Cuomo delineated in his Executive Budget:

  • $1.275 billion for the Thruway “stabilization” program—$900 million for capital, and the rest to fix the finances, and avoid a toll hike. There was no requirement for disclosure of a full-financial plan.
  • The proposed $150 million for transit-oriented development in Long Island and the Hudson Valley morphed into what E.J. McMahon called “pork pie” for Long Island—with very generalized language that the funding will go towards economic development.
  • The so-called “Hunger Games” pot ($1.5 billion) remained intact for upstate economic development.

Roads and Bridges

The list of NYSDOT projects for the next year will be delivered to the legislature within 45 days—so legislators voted on a budget without knowing where the money will go—and NYSDOT’s 5-year capital plan, like the MTA’s, was also punted to the future. In the budget, NYSDOT received:

  • An additional $100 million for year one of the NYSDOT program and an additional $150 million for year two.
  • The first year appropriation of $150 million for the five-year, $750 million State Local Bridge program (details are still fuzzy on how this will be distributed).
  • $39.7 million for Marchiselli (flat over last year), $438.1 million for CHIPs (substantially less than identified by highway superintendents), and $50 million for Extreme Winter Grants (to be distributed through the CHIPs formula).
  • The original design-build program was extended for two years.
  • An attempt to repeal the Nassau and Suffolk County speed camera demonstration program failed.
  • No dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
  • $100 million proposed for BRT also fell off the table.

An earlier version of this story said the MTA Capital Plan received $250 million for two — not four — new Metro-North stations in the Bronx. It has been corrected. 

 

2 Comments on "NYS Budget Passed: What’s in Store for Transportation?"

  1. Clark Morris | April 1, 2015 at 8:38 pm |

    A billion dollars for two stations in the Bronx. Someone should be fired. I might agree that they would be worth 10 million but not 750 million for one and 250 million for the other.

  2. Clark Morris | April 6, 2015 at 7:08 pm |

    While my posting got it wrong about the billion dollars, spending over 60 million dollars a station for the 4 stations in the Bronx is symptomatic of what is wrong with our transportation planning.

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