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Lawmakers, union leaders call for $40 million to be restored to MTA budget

March 25, 2014
Elected officials stood in solidarity on Tuesday with the Transport Workers Union Local 100 chapter — representing 38,000 active transportation workers and about 26,000 retirees — to demand a restoration of funds to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority budget, instead of the $40 million deduction Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed.

State lawmakers, those primarly with New York City constituency, spoke at a press conference in the Legislative Office Building to denounce Cuomo's proposed $40 million cut to MTA. The funds should instead be used to restore critical bus and subway services and put the breaks on fair hikes, advocates said.

"The MTA's position is that they do not have the money to restore the service yet New York state government believes they're flush enough with cash to take $40 million out of the dedicated revenues that the MTA has," said John Samuelsen, TWU Local 100 president.

"TWU lives within the five boroughs of New York City, our families constitute the riding public," he said. "We come here today to stand with our friends in the Legislature [and the riding] public of New York City; the folks that use this system, not the bureaucrats that make the decisions to defund the system and to cut services."

"They deserve every ounce of the service that was cut back in 2010 restored — the $40 million should be earmarked for that. The MTA cannot have its cake and eat it too. New York state government cannot have its cake and eat it too. You can't defund the MTA by $40 million that's rightfully theirs and rightfully belongs to the people of New York City that ride this system," Samuelsen continued.

Chair of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions James Brennan, D-Brooklyn, also spoke out against Cuomo's proposed cuts and mentioned the proposal's rejection by both the Senate and the Assembly in their one house resolution adopted two weeks ago.

"We're here not just in relation to the $40 million but to the basic principle that the state government should not be sweeping dedicated tax accounts from mass transit, especially when there are still tens of millions of dollars worth of service cuts throughout the city of New York and the suburbs in terms of suspended bus routes, curtail bus routes, curtail subway routes, services in need of restoration all throughout the Metropolitan area," Brennan said.

"I just want to join all of TWU and my colleagues today and say that we are asking our negotiators, our leaders to stand firm and to recognize the importance of these funds for mass transit and for the people of the city and state of New York," he said.

Sen. Bill Perkins held a metro card up to express that he was not just speaking on behalf of his committee ties, but as an MTA rider. Perkins, who is a member of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, also urged members of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference to be dedicated to make sure the $40 million remains within the MTA's budget.

"I can't imagine what the hell is in somebody's mind that wants to cut $40 million out of the budget for this very vital service that is growing by leaps and bounds in New York City. And so I would urge our governor and those who may have been in somewhat of leadership position in the Senate, known as the IDC, to make sure that money is not taken out of the budget," Perkins, D-Harlem, said.

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