Financial Crises Facing the MTA
There is more to the looming state budget deficit and crises. It is also part of much larger financial crises facing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, riders and taxpayers. According to New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature face a potential budget shortfall between $5.2 to $8.6 billion in fully funding the upcoming April 1, 2018–March 30, 2019 fiscal year budget. The original $4 billion anticipated deficit discussed earlier this year has grown worse by up to $4.6 billion. This is due to new projected shortfalls in personal income tax payments of $1.8 billion this year and $2.8 billion in the next budget. Who knows if continued shortfalls in anticipated tax revenues grow even more in coming months.
If Cuomo will be short between $5.2 up to $8.6 billion, how will he find the billions more in promised funding to fulfill some of his major transit commitments which total up to $100 billion? Before dealing with any transportation issues, he first will need to find $5.2 up to $8.6 billion just to maintain the same current level of spending $153 billion in his next state budget. Since this is an election year budget, taxpayers know that both the Governor and State Legislature will add billions more in spending. There is no way anyone will honor his 2% percent cap in growth of state spending combined with several billion in cuts to meet this huge shortfall. Instead, everyone has their own pet projects and programs that they will want increase financing. Incumbent elected officials believe that by “bringing home the bacon”, this will grease the wheels of reelection for another term in 2018.
On top of all that, Cuomo will still need to come up with $5.8 billion balance of the $8.3 balance he still owes to fund the $32 billion 2015–2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan, $1 billion more in new funding to deal with this past summer’s subway and LIRR Penn Station crises, $4.3 billion toward $6 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2, $7.25 billion for New York State’s 25% share of the $29 billion Amtrak Gateway Tunnel along with paying back the $1.6 billion dollar federal loan and $1 billion State Thruway Authority Bond which helped finance the new $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge, just to name a few previous commitments.
Cuomo reminds me of the character Wimpy who famously said “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Tuesday never seems to come for commuters and taxpayers.
(Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New York Region 2 Office) .
Separate Prayer Areas at the Kotel
We the undersigned Rabbis and Spiritual Leaders of congregations, Chaplains, Heads of Yeshivot and Communal organizations —representing the broad spectrum of observant American Jewry — reiterate our complete and absolute support of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel headed by Rav Yisrael Lau and Chacham Yitzchak Yosef in backing the separate gender prayer areas at the KOTEL HAMARAVI (Western Wall).
We concur that the establishment of a mixed gender pluralistic prayer space at the Western Wall contravenes the time hallowed traditions associated with prayer and communal gatherings at this most holy site of our people —the sacred Temple Mount area.
We join in support of the Chief Rabbinate’s call to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Knesset to resist any mixed gender prayer space at the KOTEL thereby maintaining true Jewish unity and peace. The KOTEL is not the place for political posturing and strife that the liberal Reform and Conservative movements are fomenting from within Israel and overseas.
The time hallowed and established religious customs of our people (Halacha) continue to unite and preserve the unity amongst the Jewish people of all backgrounds and levels of observance.
We view the unreasonable demand for a mixed gender prayer space at the Western Wall area as being a gratuitous disregard of millennia of Jewish tradition and a desecration of the MAKOM HAMIKDASH — a defilement and violation — to all that pertains to this most holy and venerated site of our national heritage and belief.
Let us together respect the call of Isaiah “I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them rejoice in My house of prayer…My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”.
Observing the multitudes of people and nationalities visiting the KOTEL who observe and respect the separation of the genders during prayer at the KOTEL —it behooves the liberal elements agitating for change, to do the same.
May the One who makes peace in the Heavenly heights make peace upon us and upon all Israel, Amen.
Ratified by Acclimation: November 19, 2017 – Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5778
Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, Av Beit Din
Rabbi Dov Aaron Brisman, Rosh Beth Din
Rabbi Shamarya Shulman, Honorary President
Rabbi Hanania Elbaz, Brooklyn, NY–Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, Norwalk CT
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Brooklyn, NY–Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, Monsey NY
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Executive Vice President
*The Rabbinical Alliance of America, a National Rabbinic Organization was founded in 1942 with the mission to preserve and promote authentic Torah true Judaism in North America. The RAA membership consists of 950 Rabbis serving throughout the United States, Canada and overseas.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik
Executive Vice President
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
Repeal & Replace, or Analyze & Improve?
Having watched and read endless debates about healthcare, I would like to take the liberty to bring up two points:
- It seems fair and logical to make health insurance mandatory for everyone, including young people. This is for two reasons:
- A young person can also get sick or, for example, suffer a car accident. By design, insurance is financial protection in case something bad happens. Without insurance, emergency room services are very expensive and must be paid by taxpayers.
- When a healthy young person pays for insurance, they help their elderly parents and grandparents by preventing the need for insurance companies to overcharge elderly and sick people. Isn’t that a noble thing to do?
I hope young people are “aware” that eventually they will become elderly themselves.
- Obamacare has been in effect since 2010. It has been tested through seven years of application, which has revealed its negative and positive (yes also positive) aspects.
In addition to the negative aspects of the proposed new healthcare plan, which are clear even before its inception, the proposed plan still has to pass the test of practical use.
So instead of repealing and replacing the existing plan, wouldn’t it be reasonable for congress to create a committee of experts (unbiased experts) to promptly analyze and suggest improvements to the health care plan presently in effect?