Transit advocate: Cuomo falls off the wagon, diverts $20 million from the M.T.A.

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Recent governors, Andrew Cuomo included, have had a habit of taking money intended for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and diverting it elsewhere.

In 2009 and 2010, Governors Cuomo and David Paterson diverted a total of $260 million from the M.T.A.

In 2011, the governor cut a deal with Senate Republicans where he agreed to cut a payroll mobility tax that sends more than $1 billion a year to the authority.

He promised to make up the difference from the general fund, and he's kept his promise so far. There is, however, no guarantee that future governors will continue to do so, since they're not required to, and the tax is hugely unpopular in the suburbs surrounding New York City.

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Now, a transportation advocate has come upon what she's describes as more of the same.

Nadine Lemmon, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign's Albany legislative advocate, says that the governor redirects $20 million from the M.T.A. in his proposed executive budget.

She writes:

This $20 million diversion of funds comes from a pot of money that is statutorily dedicated to cover the operating needs of the M.T.A. The Executive Budget, however, declared that this $20 million diversion is “surplus,” but there is no explanation of how funds are determined to be surplus. Because of increases in revenues from taxes dedicated to the M.T.A., the M.T.A. did receive a 7.4 percent increase in the executive budget over last year’s budget. But given the volatility of the economy over the last few years, these days it is hard to say that anything is “surplus.”

The governor's office had no immediate comment.