Gov. Andrew Cuomo walked into the marbled halls of Cipriani Wall Street on Thursday morning and held out a metaphorical tin cup, crying poverty and asking New York City to contribute more money to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
His speech before the Association for a Better New York was confirmation that the fight over MTA funding between Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will continue, even after the city agreed to pay up the $418 million that Cuomo’s been asking for for months.
“I think New York City and the City Council and the state Legislature are being short-sighted if they don’t invest in MTA’s future,” Cuomo said to applause. “It is the lifeblood of the city.”
A slideshow behind read “NYC must pay its legal obligation,” with graphics asserting that New York City has an $8 billion budget surplus while the state has a $4 billion budget deficit. It was not immediately clear where these numbers came from. A March report from the New York City Comptroller’s office predicted a mere a $417 million budget surplus for New York City this fiscal year. And New York state was able to close its potential $4.4 billion deficit in the budget finalized last week.
But Cuomo and MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, a Cuomo appointee who also spoke at the event, blamed a lack of funding from New York City for delays in the Subway Action Plan, the short-term program of intensive repairs to the city’s subway infrastructure to which the city will contribute the $418 million.
“It is cutting your nose to spite your face. We just lost eight months because the city wouldn’t pay half of the Subway Action Plan,” Cuomo said.
De Blasio had resisted committing more money to the MTA unless he was guaranteed that the money would go towards the subways, and not other MTA services. City Hall said Thursday that the state budget ensures that.
“Eight months ago New York City’s money would have gone into the same hole of mismanagement that caused the subway crisis. The Mayor’s advocacy ensured that riders’ money couldn’t be diverted and would actually go toward a real plan for their subways rather than station facelifts and light shows,” de Blasio’s press secretary Eric Phillips said in a statement provided to City & State. “We wish the Governor were even half as obsessed with fixing his subways as he is with Mayor de Blasio.”