Congress is set to approve an add-on to the February stimulus law that will allow public-transit agencies, including New York’s state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to spend 10 percent of their stimulus money on operating costs, rather than for capital projects, the Daily Newsreports.
Like the rest of the stimulus, this proposal will exacerbate existing imbalances. New York and other states already spend far too much on labor costs at the expense of infrastructure investment.
The MTA’s operating deficits stem from its unreformed pension, healthcare, and work-rules costs. Meanwhile, the authority’s next six-year, $30 billion capital budget, even with the $1.1 billion in stimulus money, is likely to be woefully underfunded.
If Congress allows the MTA to take $110 million from the stimulus package and put it toward operating costs, it follows that the MTA’s capital plan — and the city’s infrastructure — will bear an even greater shortfall.
It follows further that the state will be able to delay inevitable reforms to the MTA’s workforce by however much time $110 million buys these days.