Former Republican state Sen. Marty Golden got a gift on his way out the door from an unexpected source.
During Golden’s last days as a lawmaker, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill the Bay Ridge Republican sponsored to tighten the so-called “lockbox” around the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to prevent state officials from siphoning funds from the MTA and spending the money on pet projects that have nothing to do with transportation.
The new law requires state funding dedicated to the MTA to be used only for the intended purpose. Monies meant for the MTA could still be diverted, but only in emergencies, and a diversion impact statement would have to be filed.
“It is critically important that resources dedicated to support the transportation services of the MTA are used for just that and nothing else. This new law will help ensure that our transit system becomes more efficient, reliable and a safe for commuters,” Golden said in a statement.
Golden, an eight-term incumbent, lost the election in November to Democrat Andrew Gounardes. State Sen. Gounardes took office at midnight on Jan. 1.
In September, Golden appeared outside the 86th Street R train station with Chele Farley, the Republican who ran against Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and called on Cuomo to sign the lockbox bill. Farley lost the election to Gillibrand.
It’s not clear just how much money has been diverted from the MTA to other state projects over the years, but Farley estimated that it could be as much as $500 million.
Golden said state lawmakers thought they had solved the MTA fund-raiding problem through legislation in 2011.
The MTA’s funding stream was changed in 2011, according to Golden, who said a new law went into effect that created a separate “lockbox” to put MTA funds into. Under the old system, money for the MTA was put into New York State’s general fund, he said.
But the 2011 law contained a loophole that allowed the governor to take funds from the MTA to pay for specific projects, even if those projects were not transportation-related, Golden said.