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Groups blast budget on transit funding

Riders walk through a crowded Union Square subway

Riders walk through a crowded Union Square subway station in Manhattan on March 20, 2014. 2013 set a 65 year record for transit ridership. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Transportation advocates ripped into the state budget deal that strips $30 million from a transit-dedicated fund.

Seven groups issued a statement saying lawmakers "largely caved" to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who proposed taking $40 million from a pot of tax revenue that funds MTA operations. The deal reached on Saturday instead moves $30 million from the fund to pay debt on MTA projects that the state had covered.

"The sacrifice of dedicated transit funds will mean less money available to provide subway, bus, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road service," said the statement from the groups, including the Straphangers Campaign and Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.

The other groups included the New York League of Conservation Voters, the Pratt Center for Community Development, Reinvent Albany, Riders Alliance and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

The Cuomo administration had argued that the money supports transit by paying down MTA debt and that overall state funds to the MTA rose 2%, or $85 million. MTA chief Tom Prendergast last week defended the budget move, saying the state has covered the agency's financial needs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had a similar take. "We have to make sure the MTA has the resources they need. But from what I'm hearing at this point, they're doing well," de Blasio said at the Greek Independence Day Parade.

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