December 10, 2014
MALLIOTAKIS TESTIMONY TO BE DELIVERED
AT TONIGHT’S MTA HEARING ON PROPOSED TOLL INCREASES
To: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
From: Nicole Malliotakis, Member of Assembly
Date: December 10, 2014
Re: Public Hearing on Proposed Changes in Fares, Crossing Charges, and Service
My name is Nicole Malliotakis and I represent the East Shore of Staten Island and part of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the New York State Assembly. I have the distinct privilege of representing communities on both sides of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and wish to convey the unique perspective of what it’s like for residents of each borough to continually face toll increases on crossing a bridge that for many is simply unavoidable.
It is a well-known fact that Staten Islanders and Brooklynites have long funded the MTA by virtue of tolls they pay on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, with the Verrazano generating an annual profit of approximately $250 million. But that profit is mostly used to fund other parts of the MTA transportation network while debt is issued for regular maintenance of the bridge, like the current deck replacement project. This is an unfair burden placed on the many commuters who use the bridge to go to work or school.
While no major capital infrastructure projects for Southwest Brooklyn or Staten Island were included in the recently announced Capital Plan proposal, it did include more debt being issued for mega projects like the Manhattan 2nd Avenue Subway, Metro North, and the Long Island East Side Access Project—which is unjustifiably overrun by 14 years and over-budget by $6 billion. It is this type of mismanagement and reckless spending that has driven up a $40 billion debt load at the MTA and made it the 5th most indebted government entity after the States of California, Massachusetts, New York, and the City of New York. Lack of priorities on the part of the MTA has led to public transportation-starved communities in the outer boroughs, or as our Mayor would say: a tale of two cities with “its haves and have-nots.”
I sincerely urge the MTA to take the following concrete steps toward reducing this tremendous strain on my constituents, including:
1. maintaining the Staten Island Resident Discount at $5.50;
2. establishing a discount program for Brooklyn residents similar to that of the Port Authority which provides a 58% discount for commuters who make 3 or more trips in a 30-day period; and
3. joining me in urging the Governor and legislative leaders to obtain a portion of the newly realized $5 billion state surplus to avoid the toll and fare increases at issue here tonight.
While we are appreciate the restoration of bus lines on both sides of the bridge, as well as the aforementioned discount, the fact remains that the residents of Staten Island and Southwest Brooklyn are NOT getting their money’s worth. I look forward to working with you to correct that.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Brooklyn, Staten Island) issued the following statement in response to Gov. Cuomo’s budget address:
I am proud to have been a part of the progress made over the past three years, turning a $10 billion deficit into a $2 billion surplus. This year’s budget contains both positive relief for taxpayers as well as items I am concerned about. I was most pleased to hear the governor’s plan to provide tax relief for both middle-class property owners and renters. It was also refreshing to hear the governor acknowledge the flaws currently being felt from the hasty implementation of Common Core. Parents, teachers and students across the state have made their voices heard, and I look forward to working with the governor to enact these critical fixes.
Of particular interest to the people of Brooklyn is the ongoing health crisis in which so many hospitals are on the verge of closure. I was pleased to hear the governor’s desire to ensure quality health services remains intact.
The budget proposal also calls for an additional $85 million of funding for the MTA over last year’s budget. I remain hopeful that a portion of these funds will be earmarked for toll relief on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
I was very disappointed that the governor once again proposed using taxpayer funds for political campaigns, a plan I strongly oppose. Controversial policy issues such as this should be debated and voted on separately from the budget.
Legislators call on agency to put their chips on the table in the public eye
Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C, 60th District) recently announced that they are sponsoring legislation calling for an independent audit of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)’s finances. The pair highlighted developments in recent years that have led to the need for light to be shed on the way that the MTA spends taxpayer money.
“The MTA consistently deals with a deficit of its own creation and consistently comes to the taxpayers of this state with their hands out,” said Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island). “They create mess after mess and then pass the buck onto taxpayers by hiking fares and cutting services. The MTA’s finances should be independently examined to seek greater efficiencies and cut expenses, just like the rest of us have had to do in our own households and businesses.”
“By decreasing services while increasing fares and tolls, the MTA has demonstrated that their problems stem not from a lack of revenue, but from mismanagement and inefficiency,” said Malliotakis. “Even with additional funding from the disastrous MTA Payroll Tax, driver’s license and registration fees, taxes on car rentals and a litany of other charges, the 60th Assembly District has seen eight bus lines either scaled back or completely eliminated. An independent audit of the MTA’s finances would allow the public to see how their money is being spent, while enabling state government to pinpoint the waste and inefficiency that has allowed the agency’s spending to spiral out of control.”
Lanza is sponsoring Senate Bill 4637, while Malliotakis is sponsoring the Assembly companion, 7856.