$145M Raid on MTA Dedicated Funds Rejected, With $160M Restored to Transit Agencies
Senate Proposal Includes Opportunity Zones Elimination Act, Saving Taxpayers $63M
Reinvent Albany appreciates the Legislature’s actions in their one-house budget bills to begin restoring their role as a co-equal branch of government. The Assembly and Senate’s budget proposals would reject extraordinary budget powers proposed by the Governor, continuing to strip the executive branch of COVID-19 emergency powers.
Seventeen groups including Reinvent Albany asked the Legislature to reject the following items in a letter last week, which were omitted from the budget by the Legislature:
- Continued withholdings power for the governor for FY 2022
- “Part UU” COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund controlled by governor
- Transfer/interchange language for state operating funds
The Legislature must now ensure that these items remain omitted from the final budget agreement due by April 1st.
Mass Transit Raids Rejected, Including $145M Restored to MTA
Reinvent Albany thanks the Legislature for rejecting $160M worth of raids on dedicated transit funds, and restoring critically needed operating funding to transit agencies across the state, including $145M restored to the MTA. Thirty organizations, including Reinvent Albany, unions, and other watchdog groups, asked the Legislature to reject raids on dedicated mass transit funds and ensure that all withheld funding is restored. The Governor has not yet made a formal proposal to cut spending for the current budget, FY 2021 which ends March 31st. The Governor still intends to raid $98M from the MTA from this year’s budget, which the Legislature must also reject.
The Legislature also rejected the Governor’s proposal to amend procurement laws related to bidding on MTA contracts. The Senate in its one-house resolution called for hearings to be held instead so that all stakeholders can weigh in on how to improve MTA contracting.
The Senate has amended the Governor’s proposal on toll enforcement, including for central business district tolling, which Reinvent Albany supported. The Assembly has eliminated the provision from their one-house bill.
Senate Proposes Eliminating Opportunity Zones, Raising $63M for FY2022
The Opportunity Zone Tax Break Elimination Act (S1195 / A5701) was included in the Senate’s one-house bill, as part QQ of S2509-B. Reinvent Albany called on the Legislature to end this corporate giveaway as part of its testimony on Economic Development. Eliminating the Opportunity Zones boondoggle is supported by 20 organizations and six unions, who urged the Legislature to pass the Act. Reinvent Albany calls on the Assembly to support ending this program as part of the final enacted budget.
Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Restoration of Climate Funds
Both the Senate and Assembly budgets do not include S4816 (Krueger), which would eliminate numerous fossil fuel subsidies and save the state up to $300 million annually. Reinvent Albany and numerous environmental groups view this bill as crucial to the state’s efforts to fight climate change. It makes no sense for the state to both subsidize and tax fossil fuels, as it currently does. We hope the legislature will consider passing the bill soon.
However, similar to rejecting the raids on MTA dedicated funds, the Legislature rejected the Governor’s proposal to divert $23M in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Funds to the state’s general fund. Raids of these climate change funds have long been opposed by environmental groups.
Reinvent Albany will provide additional analysis of the Legislature’s proposals in the coming days.