NY State Budget Holds the Line on Transportation

On Wednesday night, the NY State Legislature passed a 2011-2012 budget, successfully meeting the April 1st deadline for the first time in five years. The final levels of funding for transportation mirror those proposed by Governor Cuomo: $100 million will be swept from dedicated transit funds into the general fund; funds for upstate and suburban transit systems will be roughly the same as last year; and the budget will also hold the line on the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and Marchiselli programs (key sources of funds for local highway departments, threatened over the years).

Within the swirl of budget negotiations, a number of points of discussion ultimately did not get traction. Lawmakers had previously suggested that the budget could include an additional $100 million raid of dedicated transit funds, a $70 million cut in transit funds to exempt schools from the payroll tax, and possible solutions to the disastrous Long Island Bus crisis. None made it into the final budget.

The payroll tax, a critical funding source for the MTA, did take its usual place on the chamber’s floor as resident punching bag. State Sen. Liz Krueger questioned why Republicans were letting the “millionaire’s tax” lapse while keeping the payroll tax in place. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos later said he might push for repeal of the payroll tax this year, but thought he’d have more leverage during next year’s budget.