Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The MTA Mess

Our illustrious state government has come up once again with a plan nobody likes. I believe it would take the wisdom of Solomon to equitably resolve the financial mess of the MTA. Nevertheless, I suspect that we have the usual suspects to blame for all this: unions driving up costs to ridiculous levels, and incompetent management caring more about their own bonuses than in running an efficient operation. The problem is, how do we get the MTA costs under control given union contracts and years of mismanagement? I wish I had the answer.

What I don’t like about the plan is that certain counties must help pay for the shortfall because of their geographic proximity to New York City. Even though most people in Duchess, Orange and Putnam counties don’t use the MTA, they must pay. That seems unfair and places more burden on areas that are already very expensive to live in.

The article in the Poughkeepsie Journal said there would be more state oversight of the MTA, and that is a good thing (assuming the state actually does its job). The MTA must be made accountable, and cost savings must be found.

Will the last one out of New York State please turn off the lights? What this state must realize is that it is in competition with 49 other states and about 140 countries to attract or retain businesses. Who in their right mind would start or expand a business in this state? The state isn’t particularly friendly to businesses, and is very expensive when it comes to occupancy (utilities, rent), taxes, and labor costs. No wonder so many businesses are moving their operations overseas!

While the state can’t control certain costs – they are determined by the marketplace – it can and should reduce the heavy tax burden and other costs such as the MTA. In addition, it must upgrade the infrastructure so as to be competitive with the other states and countries. I believe our elected officials have the obligation to make the right decisions for the overall welfare of the citizens who elected them and placed their trust in them. This is a moral and ethical issue in my opinion, because the welfare and livelihood of the citizens of this state are in jeopardy. We need to pray for them to have wisdom.

Those in Albany seem not to have this vision, and so I recommend we change the name from The Empire State to The Declining State. Don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave.

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