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May 24, 2016
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ASSEMBLYMEMBER RODRIGUEZ AND COLLEAGUES TO OUTLINE INNOVATIVE “LOCK BOX” SAFEGUARDS IN MOVE NY LEGISLATION
Move NY Plan and bill prevent Albany from diverting revenues and ensure that funds for improving transit and roads and bridges and that newly discounted tolls on outer crossings stay that way
(New York, NY) A total of 23 Assembly members have co-sponsored the Move NY Fair Plan legislation (A09633) introduced by Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez (East Harlem) on March 23, 2016. Today, Assemblyman Rodriguez and his colleagues are highlighting the various provisions in the bill designed to “lockbox” the revenue that will be raised by the Move NY Fair Plan to upgrade our transit system and road and bridge network: $1.35 billion in new, annual revenue which, when bonded, will generate over $12 billion in available resources to invest in the region’s transportation infrastructure.
In addition to directing $7.3 billion to cover the current and next (2020-24) MTA capital plans, the legislation allocates over $7 billion to fund MTA capital needs, establishes a pair of $350 million Hudson Valley and Long Island Transit Gap Investment Funds, dedicates $375 million annually for maintaining the City’s roads and bridges, and creates a $4.5 billion Transit Gap Investment Fund for New York City to expand public transit and improve accessibility for millions of New Yorkers, particularly those who live in so-called “transit deserts.”
The bill includes a number of inherent and designed provisions that will make it difficult for either Albany to divert the revenue elsewhere or for the MTA to spend the non-capital plan money on anything other than those priorities outlined in the bill. First, unlike other MTA “dedicated revenue” like real estate and petroleum taxes, and the payroll mobility tax on businesses, which must be appropriated each year by the New York State Legislature and approved by the Governor, the revenue raised by the Move NY plan comes from tolls and for-hire-vehicle surcharges and is collected directly by New York City’s Department of Transportation and Taxi and Limousine Commission thus avoiding Albany altogether. Every cent of the money raised is directed to a newly formed authority – the Move NY Highway and Transit Authority (MNYHTA) – to be dispensed by the authority’s board which is comprised of the same members of the MTA’s board since the authority is a subsidiary of the MTA Bridge & Tunnel Authority (an arrangement that protects the rights of current MTA bondholders who must be made whole for the loss, under the plan, of revenue on the MTA’s seven bridges).
The MNYHTA board must disburse the revenue collected according to a “waterfall” of spending allocations specified in the bill which account for every cent. If additional revenue beyond the allotted amounts is generated, the money is split between the MTA and NYCDOT 75%-25%, thus adhering to the overall formula of the plan. Further, nearly all of the transit related money will be bonded making it next to impossible for Albany to get at the money for other purposes – and again it doesn’t have a chance to touch the money in the first place since it never passes through the NYS Legislature. Finally, the $5.25 billion in combined Transit Gap Investment Funding is controlled by three independent boards made up of elected officials representing New York City, the Hudson Valley and Long Island who must consult with local community boards and stakeholder groups before deciding which transit projects to fund.
While there is always the concern that the Legislature or Governor could “rob Peter to pay Paul” – i.e., redirect existing MTA revenues elsewhere – the bill includes several provisions to prevent that from taking place: a “Maintenance of Effort” clause which essentially says that the state cannot reduce existing revenues in response to the new stream created by the Move NY plan, as well as an Agreement of State, which obligates the state to make good on financing its bond debt.
Some legislators have been concerned that the MTA will hike the lowered tolls on the outer bridges back up soon after they’re required to lower them thus obviating the benefit to outer borough and suburban drivers. Under the Move NY bill, a poison pill has been included that will prevent the MTA from ever doing that. Here’s how it works: If the MTA ever raises the outer bridge tolls by more than the new ratios that will be created by the toll swap under the bill – i.e., of newly lowered tolls on the MTA bridges to newly introduced tolls into the Central Business District – the new tolls on the East River bridges and across 60th Street will automatically be decommissioned. Thus, the MTA will never try to jack the outer tolls back up because they would suffer a substantial net loss of revenue.
“In crafting this plan we have ensured that all revenue will be protected in the strongest way that is legislatively possible. Move NY is not just a vision for a stronger and more equitable transit system, but one that protects riders and drivers from the damaging transit raids of previous eras.”– Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez (Manhattan, 68th District).
“Move NY consulted with leading experts on how best to safeguard the revenue raised to ensure it is spent on the transportation priorities specified in the legislation,” said Alex Matthiessen, Move NY campaign director and president of Blue Marble Project. “We are confident that this bill is as close to bulletproof as one can get and that the great benefits of the Move NY plan will be realized if the bill is enacted into law. We commend the Assembly Members for their dedication to providing 21st century transit services to the New York metro region and look forward to working with them and their Senate counterparts to #GetNYMoving again.”
Current co-sponsors, representing the Hudson Valley, Long Island, and New York City, include: Assembly Members Thomas J. Abinanti, Michael Benedetto, Michael Blake, James F. Brennan, David Buchwald, Alice Cancel, Marcus Crespo, Richard N. Gottfried, Andrew Hevesi, Earlene Hooper, Latoya Joyner, Brian Kavanagh, Guillermo Linares, Shelley Mayer, Walter T. Mosley, Felix W. Ortiz, Amy Paulin, Dan Quart, Luis R. Sepulveda, Jo Anne Simon, Annette Robinson, Linda B. Rosenthal, and Fred W. Thiele, Jr.
Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (Greenburgh/Mt. Pleasant, 68th District) said, “this is a good step towards modernizing transportation for those who commute and travel throughout the metropolitan region. It will guarantee proper funding for regional needs through cooperative action by New York City and suburban representatives.”
“Through the investment that will be made by the Move NY legislation, it will lead to more methods of transit and increased access for Bronxites to quality jobs, schools and healthcare,” said Assemblymember Michael Blake (Bronx, 79th District). “Our communities suffer not from lack of talent but from lack of opportunity. The Move NY legislation is an important step in achieving our vision of Economic Development, Education, and Equality for All. These new infrastructure projects will increase the amount of commuters, jobs and opportunities throughout our city. I look forward to continuing to work with Assemblyman Rodriguez and all of the bills’ co-sponsors to modernize our transit system so it serves all New Yorkers.”
“A modern city demands a modern transportation system. It also demands an appropriate and functional funding mechanism to build, maintain and expand it. Besides, decay, New York City and its metropolitan area are both seeing increased density in population and overcrowding in its current mass transportation modes. The proposed Transit Gap Investment Fund (TGIF) will ensure that our city and the region surrounding it has a mass transportation system that will bring us to par with the efficient, effective and beautiful transportation infrastructure that we look to with envy in Western Europe,” declared Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo (Bronx, 85th District), member of the Assembly Transportation Committee.
“New York City residents know that our mass transit system is underfunded and overcrowded, and that traffic jams harm our environment and our economy. It’s time for policymakers in Albany to enact the Move New York plan to speed traffic flow, help reduce congestion and air pollution, and provide a dedicated funding stream for the metropolitan region’s public transportation networks,” said Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried of (Manhattan, 75th District).
“Yonkers’ economy and the economy of all of New York depends upon a vibrant and reliable transportation infrastructure. For far too long, the sources of funding have been uncertain and there have been too many gaps in service. Move NY provides a solid source of funding, including a portion dedicated to the Hudson Valley’s roads, bridges, and public transportation needs,” said Assemblymember Shelley Mayer (Yonkers, 90th District). “This plan will enhance service and provide a consistent source of revenue.” “Yonkers’ economy and the economy of all of New York depends upon a vibrant and reliable transportation infrastructure. For far too long, the sources of funding have been uncertain and there have been too many gaps in service. Move NY provides a solid source of funding, including a portion dedicated to the Hudson Valley’s roads and bridges, and public transportation needs. This plan will enhance service and provide a consistent source of revenue.”
“As Brooklyn moves forward into the 21st century our public transportation must keep pace with the increasing demand for fast, efficient, and reliable service. We have seen an exponential increase of new members to our communities of central Brooklyn which in turn has put higher stress on our aging transportation system. Crowded platforms, dirty stations, and delay in services can no longer define outer borough service. I am proud to work in collaboration with my colleagues in the State Legislature to implement the Move NY plan and ensure that our mass transit system is properly and equitably funded,” said Assemblymember Walter T. Mosley (Brooklyn, 57th District).
“The Move NY Fair Plan is an ambitious proposal to help boost the City’s overwhelmed transit system and create a new revenue stream for the M.T.A.,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz (Brooklyn, 51st District). “Bay Ridge would have expanded service and travel times should be improved across Brooklyn. Auto traffic can be reduced and air quality made healthier. Improvements in our quality of life could be enormous if this plan is enacted.”
“As someone who is very concerned about greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, the Move NY bill just makes sense. This plan calls for expanded investment in mass transit infrastructure in urban and suburban communities and a permanent revenue stream. Planning for the future of public transportation is essential to curbing noxious gases and improving the lives of New Yorkers,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin (Scarsdale, 88th District).
“I stand behind the Move NY plan. Time and time again, we’ve seen state funds dedicated to a specific purpose swept into the General Fund and used for spending it wasn’t collected for. This cannot happen to the Move NY plan. Our transit system is bursting at the seams. Without reliable, dedicated funding streams to maintain, upgrade and expand the system, New York City simply won’t move,” said Assemblymember Dan Quart (Manhattan, 73rd District).
“The improvement of the transportation system provides vital access to those who have been limited because of cost. Especially those living in two fare zones. I am pleased to support Move NY,” said Assemblymember Annette M. Robinson (Brooklyn, 56th District).
Assemblymember Rebecca A. Seawright (Manhattan, 77th District) said, “Thank you Assembly Member Rodriguez, fierce advocate for public transit and sponsor of the innovative Move NY Fair Plan. It is critical to invest in transit systems which are currently being stretched to their limit with no relief in sight. We only stand to benefit from the expansion of transit systems like the Second Avenue Subway which will bring much needed relief to those who are living in so called “transit deserts.” Let’s keep all parts of the City and State accessible to all with Move NY!”
Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda (Bronx, 87th District) stated, “This proposed Move NY legislation, along with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to build four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx under its 2015-2019 capital program, will well serve the Bronx and its citizens, bringing much needed upgrades to its transit system, roads and bridges, along with commuter ferry service, new express bus routes and a reduction in what are now some of the highest commute times in the nation.”
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (Brooklyn, 52nd District) said, “The Move NY legislation is a serious, thoughtful and comprehensive bill to address funding transit and surface transportation need in an equitable, fiscally responsible and constructive way. Move NY would both encourage better mass transit service to underserved neighborhoods while discouraging gratuitous traffic through our communities and fixing our roads and bridges, bringing much needed rationality and equity to our dysfunctional and inequitable toll system.”
Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (Bridgehampton, 1st District) stated, “I am looking forward to working with transit advocates and my Legislative colleagues from the New York City area, the Hudson Valley and Long Island in promoting the passage of the Move NY Fair Plan to provide a solid funding source to close the MTA’s current budget gap and improve transit access, especially on the East End of Long Island where it is much needed.”
“By approving the Move NY Fair Plan, state lawmakers can ensure that New Yorkers get the public transit funding they need,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “This plan gives New Yorkers the opportunity to have a say about which transit projects are most urgently in need of funding in their communities — through the unprecedented Transit Gap Investment Fund. And it would make sure our transportation funding is dedicated and protected.”
John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “Public transit is more popular than ever before, but our investment in the system hasn’t kept pace. Subways are dangerously crowded and notoriously unreliable, with no end in sight. Meanwhile, the State has promised $8.3 billion to help improve downstate transit, but with no funding source and no timetable attached. The Move NY plan will provide a new, reliable funding source to modernize our subways and buses without raising fares to levels that working people can’t afford.”
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