The state bailed out the MTA with a $1.5 billion payroll tax earlier this year. But it turns out revenues from the payroll tax will come in $200 million less than expected. If only the state and the MTA had had someone back then to tell them that the payroll tax would be a dangerously volatile source of revenue.
Anyway. What with Albany having stolen another $146 million from the MTA recently to close its own budget gap, the authority now has a $346 million hole to fill. MTA CFO Gary Dellaverson said yesterday that the authority won’t really try to deal with the problem this year — in essence, reviving its pre-bailout idea of declining to balance its current budget. For next year, service cuts may loom.
The news came out just hours before President Obama was to make a speech on creating jobs — including new money for infrastructure investment, likely funneled through states and cities.
Obama should tie any new investment in infrastructure to state and city efforts to rein in their infrastructure operating expenses, including the still-rising costs of unionized labor, which are the biggest cause of the MTA’s woes. Otherwise, the president is alleviating only a tiny bit of the pressure of badly managed labor’s long-term death squeeze on infrastructure investment.