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County Executive’s Column - July 23, 2010

MTA Shouldn’t Blame County for Able Ride Cuts

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has made a poor decision in cutting services provided by the Able-Ride Program while blaming such cuts on Nassau County.

Although it is true that last year former County Executive Tom Suozzi proposed $2.8 million in cuts to the Long Island Bus budget, I voted against these cuts and worked as a county legislator to restore approximately $1.4 million in funding to Long Island Bus. As a result, the total allocation for Long Island Bus in our current county budget is $9,067,380, of which $2,179,817 is specifically committed to Able-Ride.

Next let me say that it is highly disingenuous for the MTA to blame Nassau County for its recent service cuts at a time when the newly enacted job-killing payroll tax fills the MTA’s coffers with $3 million from Nassau County residents. Today, the MTA collects $1.6 million more than ever from Nassau residents.

In an effort to solve these most recent service cuts, I submitted an application to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Gary Ackerman with a request of $1.9 million for the Able-Ride Program. Both representatives have informed me that they submitted my request to Congress for this appropriation. Should these federal funds become available, it is my hope to restore many of the MTA’s service cuts to Able-Ride.

Although the MTA attempts to blame its Able-Ride service cuts on fiscal woes, the MTA fails to mention the government neglect and taxpayer waste that has plagued the agency for years. For this reason, I have written to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to request a forensic audit be conducted of the MTA in an effort to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.

It is my hope that light can be shed on this government bureaucracy to reduce waste and restore funding to Able-Ride.

I remain committed to doing all we can to make Able-Ride available for the disabled and our most vulnerable citizens.