I was delighted to see so many Leaguers at the Advocacy Day in Albany, May 10! Thanks to all who made the effort to attend. Amtrak took me to Albany, and taxi to the Empire Plaza area; I hope that others of us can use Amtrak for our travel needs.
Below is the information that I shared on May 10, updated, re: NYS Budget – here’s what we asked for; here’s what we got:
- Our focus at the LWVNYS was generally to increase funding for all modes of transportation, with special emphasis on public transit. The promise of the enacted budget is that all parts of the State Transit Operating Assistance (STOA) received increased funding. However, the mechanisms for providing those funds are not clear; there is no direction to change the system so that revenue streams for STOA are growing and not stagnant. The Brennan/DiFrancisco bill which we supported would have changed the structure, but was not included in the budget process.
- Similarly, appropriations for capital projects were increased. A long-awaited 5-year capital plan for the NYSDOT was approved, to the tune of $27 billion. This plan covers all transportation modes outside of the MTA. A nearly equal amount was approved for the MTA, covering the next five years. Transit systems and jurisdictions must apply for these funds. Net result for transit systems will be to free up revenues to help cover operating costs.
- Governor Cuomo and the Legislature are negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will define how and from what sources the funds will come. Ask legislators and the governor’s office: Will that MOU be made available to the public?
- The LWVNYS and allies are concerned about rural transit systems that were impacted by the state Department of Health (DOH) rulings about serving Medicaid clients. The enacted budget added $4 million to the DOH budget.
Update re: Legislative contacts is as follows:
- I spoke with staff at Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi’s office (May 18) who reported that the O’Mara/Brindisi bill (S5794/A8202) is likely to pass during this session. This bill, “to improve Interagency Coordinating Committee on Rural Public Transportation”, will help rural transit systems cope with Federal regulations regarding Medicaid transportation funding.
- There is bi-partisan support for new bill, Rozic/Lanza A09872/S07608, to require the NYSDOT Commissioner to “develop and present to the governor and legislature a five-year capital plan, with defined projects, that is subject to public review prior to the passage of the state budget.” There is no clear momentum for this bill before the end of the session; however, there are many co-sponsors who urge the process be completed.
Between now and early June, we ask the following:
- continue to speak with NYS legislators in support of the O-Mara?Brindisi bill (S5794/A8202)
- urge NYS legislators to support Rozic/Lanza A09872/S07608, so that we may all benefit from clear understanding of the NYSDOT’s funding needs prior to debate on the budget.
4-15-16 NYS Budget analysis (N. Lemmon) http://blog.tstc.org/2016/04/07/new-york-state-budget-includes-big-wins-for-transportation-followed-by-big-question-marks/
New York Public Transit Association https://nytransit.org/images/Budget_Analysis_4.4.16.fd.pdf
Gladys Gifford, firstname.lastname@example.org