There are a number of flaws to Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature’s passage of our recent state budget which have been overlooked. “$133B state budget OK’d” (April 5). Gov. Cuomo has adopted the age-old practice of pushing current operating budget expenses into future years. There are $3 billion in pension fund expenses deferred over the next 10 years. He has also increased the debt ceiling by $7 billionfor the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as a method to fully fund its Five Year Capital Program.
Increasing allowable long-term debt from $34 to $41 billion means agreater percentage of the MTA’s future budget will go toward paying off interest rather than funding badly needed basic state of good repair, safety and security capital projects. Debt paymentscurrently at $2billion per year will grow to $3 billion annually by 2019. That will also leave lessmoney available forfundingany system expansion projects, such as Phases 2 to 4 of the Second Avenue subway.
Only Washington, Albany, City Hall and perhaps California carry more long-term debt than the MTA. This is nothing to be proud of. It is a direct result of past governors and mayors — on a bipartisan basis, over decades — reducing hard cash contributions for their share of MTA operations. They have forced the MTA to borrow more money for funding of its capital program.