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WNY legislators seek ‘parity’ in upstate roads, downstate MTA funding

ALBANY – Republican and Democratic lawmakers are joining together to push Gov. Andrew Cuomo to provide “true parity” in funding between upstate roads and bridges and the downstate Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Members of the Western New York delegation urged Cuomo to amend his recent budget proposal to reduce what they say is a $6 billion funding difference between upstate infrastructure spending and the MTA program. Until several years ago, lawmakers and governors had agreed on more equal funding levels.

“This parity recognizes the disproportionate amount of gas taxes and motor vehicle fees paid by upstate residents, which are meant to be dedicated for transportation capital projects and maintenance,’’ said the letter signed by 15 lawmakers whose political leanings stretch from right to left and represent an array of urban, suburban and rural constituents.

Like many aspects of the budget plan, Cuomo has not revealed how he believes the $22 billion he proposed for upstate roads and bridges should exactly be spent. Lawmakers called on him to release a five-year capital program outlining what projects would be funded.

“Your current proposal includes a nearly six billion dollar disparity between MTA and DOT (Department of Transportation) funding, which is the largest in history and equates to almost 35% more funding for the MTA,’’ lawmakers wrote in the letter sent to Cuomo last week.

They also urged him not to repeat “formula errors” in the past that, they say, shortchanged Western New York’s Region 5 in the level of transportation funding. They told Cuomo the region should get at least 10% of the DOT statewide funding level, which lawmakers say correctly reflects miles of roads and bridge inventory.