New York's delegation works to save funds
as Republicans look to reward other states
By Devlin Barrett
WASHINGTON – One of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's
greatest achievements for New York is in danger of being whittled
away as Congress works on a six-year, $375 billion transportation
New York lawmakers and state officials are frantically working
to protect their historically large share of the funds as
Midwestern and Western lawmakers push to boost their cut at
the expense of New York and other Northeastern states. All
states would get increases under current proposals.
"It's a battle royal," said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert,
Boehlert, chairman of the House Science Committee, said
he is in the odd position of fighting his House Majority Leader,
Tom DeLay, "every step of the way, because he leads a
group that, if they succeed, will cost New York $300 million
The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, commonly
referred to as IS-TEA or "ice tea," was the 1992
brainchild of the erudite Democrat from New York.
Moynihan, who died last March, crafted the five-year measure
to build roads in the west while rebuilding aging roads and
mass transit systems in New York and the Northeast.
In a sense, his plan worked too well because states like Texas
have grown increasingly frustrated by getting less money out
of the program than they pay into it.
When IS-TEA expired in the late 1990s, a six-year, $175
billion successor bill delivered about $1.25 to New York for
every dollar in gasoline and transportation taxes the state
sent to the federal government, thanks in part to efforts
of then-Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.
That program ended last year, and Congress approved a five-month
extension, which expires at the end of February.
In one version of highway funding currently under consideration,
New York's return would drop to $1.17 per dollar in the first
year, and to just under $1 in 2009.
The money for mass transit is particularly critical to New
York, because about a third of the nation's mass transit commuters
are in the New York City area. Transit money also helps fund
public bus lines in upstate cities like Rochester, Utica,
Syracuse and Albany.
That funding appears most precarious at the moment, as lawmakers
search for a guaranteed source of mass transit money.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's spokesman, Joe Householder,
said current proposals are "greatly improved" over
earlier numbers, but she would keep pushing to make it better.
Gov. George Pataki has been phoning Republican leaders and
meeting with some.
Some lawmakers, like Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., are focused
on raising the overall amount to ensure New York gets more
raw dollars than previously.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.