Budget Amendments Include Measures to Ensure a Dedicated Funding Stream for the MTA, Additional Expert Oversight of MTA Finances and Operations, Reforms to MTA Board and Management, and Improved Processes for Major Agency Projects
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a series of amendments to the FY 2020 Executive Budget that will establish accountability, provide new funding, and overhaul the MTA's archaic bureaucracy. The Budget Amendments outline a set of proposals for the Legislature that will fix a system that has been broken for decades, including measures to provide a dedicated funding stream through congestion pricing, additional expert oversight of MTA finances and operations, reforms to the MTA Board and management structure, authorize new board members, and improve processes for major agency projects.
"The MTA's dysfunction is no secret, and for decades it has been suffering due to a lack of investment, accountability, and creative thinking," Governor Cuomo said. "Today we are adding specific measures to the Executive Budget that willcontinue our efforts at achieving real reforms. The MTA desperately needs money, but it also needs a structure that is rooted in accountability and new ideas that will ensure the agency is finally operating as it should be and as New Yorkers demand."
The Governor proposed the following Budget Amendments:
- Create an Expert Panel to Set Congestion Pricing Rates and Provide Key Oversight of MTA Finances and Operations: The Budget Amendments would establish an expert MTA oversight panel, which would be comprised of six members with extensive backgrounds in critical areas, including auditing, public finance, engineering, transportation/transit, corporate restructuring, and risk management. The panel will be tasked with a number of important functions, including setting and approving the rates within the proposed congestion pricing zone, which then will be implemented by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA). The panel will also be charged with overseeing an audit of the MTA's operating and capital budgets, approving the next MTA capital plan and operating budgets, and analyzing and ultimately approving MTA plans for reorganization.
- Establish a Variable Pricing Structure and a Lockbox for Congestion Pricing Revenue: The Budget Amendments would require that rates for the congestion pricing plan must be set using a variable pricing structure, which would take into account the type of vehicle, the time and day of the week, credit for any tolls paid at other bridges and tunnels, as well as other key factors that will be determined through conversations with the Legislature. The Budget Amendments also would require the creation of a dedicated lockbox to ensure that 100% of congestion pricing revenue goes to the MTA capital budget prohibits the use of congestion revenues for non-capital spending. The expected revenue generated by the plan would provide $15 billion for the MTA's next capital budget, which begins in 2020 and runs through the end of 2024.
- Require MTA to Develop a Reorganization Plan: The Budget Amendments require the MTA to develop a comprehensive reorganization plan to end the agency's decades of mismanagement and bureaucracy. The MTA's plans would be subject to the approval of the expert panel.
- Ensure MTA Board Member Terms Align with Their Appointing Entity: The Budget Amendments establish provisions to ensure MTA Board member terms are aligned with the terms of the official who appointed them. When the appointing individual's term ends, the Board member would be placed on holdover status until a successor is appointed to the Board by the newly elected official. The proposal is designed to create additional and necessary accountability so that Board members are answering directly to the authority by which they were appointed.
- Implement Design-Build for Major Capital Projects: The Budget Amendments would require the use of design-build for all major MTA capital projects. Design-build - which combines the design and construction services into single contracts - reduces the bureaucracy and costs of major infrastructure projects, and shifts the responsibility to the private sector. New York State uses design-build for major projects, including for the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, one of the largest recent public infrastructure projects in the nation, and the new Kosciuszko Bridge, which will be completed in 2020, a full four years ahead of schedule. MTA construction projects rarely come in on time, and design-build is inarguably the most efficient construction method.