If Gov. Paterson cuts funding to the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority as expected, the MTA may make up for the cut by slashing payments to its pension fund, the Bond Buyer reports (you need a subscription).

The MTA would use the temporary savings to repay some of its short-term debt. It incurred this debt earlier this year in anticipation of bailout money (shockingly, the MTA did this borrowing even though we told it not to).

Paterson has proposed to cut MTA operating funding by $115 million, mostly by slashing the “dedicated sales, petroleum, and transportation-related taxes” upon which the authority has long depended, notes the Bond Buyer‘s Ted Phillips.

MTA CFO Gary Dellaverson said yesterday that the cuts present a dilemma, because the authority must repay its short-term bonds by the end of the year. So the MTA likely will solve the dilemma by delaying monthly pension-fund payments until next year, reports Phillips.

Remember: A few months ago, the MTA went to the state begging for a bailout, or else draconian service cuts and other bad stuff would ensue. So the state, after much hand-wringing, enacted a new $1.5 billion downstate payroll tax for the authority.

So here’s what downstate New Yorkers should be wondering: was that bailout really just another back-door tax hike for New York State?

It’s only because the MTA can now count on its new payroll-tax subsidy that the state even dares to reduce its other dedicated gas- and sales-tax subsidies and some of that money to the general state deficit instead.

In effect, then, part of the MTA bailout money, which comes at a high economic price, is just going to bail out Albany and its overbloated spending elsewhere.

The state can only do this, too, because, as ever, the MTA is willing to play financial sleight-of-hand to please the politicians.

You may also like

MTA’s Casino Funding Takes Voters For A Ride

As the Legislature prepares to authorize new downstate casinos, some voters who supported the amendment are discovering they came up snake-eyes. Read More

MTA: Overtime down, take our word for it

Every year for over a decade, the Empire Center has submitted Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the payrolls of MTA corporate subsidiaries. And in almost every one o Read More

Policing the MTA’s overtime police

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has assigned its own police force to monitor attendance and overtime use by Long Island Railroad employees, the Daily News reports. Read More

Cuomo’s magical mystery cash

So, how is Governor Andrew Cuomo paying for that $100 billion infrastructure "development initiative" that, as he put in his State of the State message yesterday, "would make Governor Rockefeller jealous"? The answer: for the most part, he actually isn't. Read More

Power for tolls?

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) could be taking the money-losing state Barge Canal off the back of the Thruway Authority under the fiscal 2017 state budget that will be proposed today by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Assuming this Buffalo News report is true, it would explain how Cuomo intends to finance his proposal to freeze Thruway tolls for five years even while building the $4.8 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. Read More

Robert Moses, call your office!

Apparently looking to make a big splash with a pre-budget rollout of downstate infrastructure initiatives, Governor Andrew Cuomo aimed for the biggest body of water he could find: the Long Island Sound. The "2016 agenda" Cuomo unveiled before the Long Island Association today included revived plans for a third track on the main line of the Long Island Railroad, improvements to regional airports and other development projects. But the governor couldn't resist capping off the agenda with a real attention-getter: a $5 million feasibility study of "a tunnel connecting Long Island to either the Bronx, Westchester County or Connecticut." Read More

Highway project highlights waste

Governor Cuomo last week announced the completion of a construction project in Orange County, four years after the state Department of Transportation (DOT) deliberately added at least $4 million to the cost by improperly steering jobs to Hudson Valley unions—and cost taxpayers up to $22 million for the way it did it. Read More

A check on transparency

The MTA has now paid the Empire Center's expenses for a successful lawsuit compelling timely release of the agency's payroll data. Read More