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The Empire

ICYMI: Cuomo's slow boat on transit

WNYC's Andrea Bernstein tried to divine Governor Andrew Cuomo's transit vision vis-a-vis the tax reform package passed last week. According to the post featured on the Transportation Nation blog, for those looking for more from Cuomo on public transit "it’s been a season of swallowing lemons."

There were the departures of MTA chief Jay Walder and Port Authority executive director Chris Ward, both seen as transit supporters – and their replacement with Cuomo loyalists Joe Lhota and Pat Foye, neither of whom has a background in public transportation.

There was the introduction of a massive plan to build a new Tappan Zee bridge, with the transit option mysteriously erased at the last minute.

And then: this week, to get his tax bill past the Republicans, the governor had to be willing to throw the MTA payroll tax under a bus, at least partially. Schools and small businesses would no longer have to pay the tax, which plays a vital role in maintaining the transit system.

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Governor Cuomo reiterated that assurance Friday: “The state will pay, dollar-for-dollar, whatever amount would have been raised by that tax. So the MTA is held totally harmless — we’re just shifting the source of those funds from the MTA payroll tax to state funds.”

And the governor said no one should conclude from this that he doesn’t care about transit as much as, say, jobs for inner-city youth. “Obviously the MTA is very important to the region’s economy. I’m very excited about my appointee to the MTA, Joseph Lhota — all reports are he’s doing a great job and this will not cost the MTA one penny.”

But the idea of a broke state government being the guarantor of transit funds has left straphangers advocates uneasy.

Check out the rest of the post here.