Buffalo, NY—Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) today refuted the inconsistent and false assertions of the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) regarding federal funding they have received.
“Should an agency that doesn’t know how much federal funding it receives be trusted with that funding?” asked Higgins. “The serious inconsistencies and blatant falsities that the Thruway Authority has responded to me with are inexcusable. The Thruway Authority needs to come clean and fess up—their ineptitude in calculating the inconsistencies in their public statements is troubling.”
The timeline of Thruway inconsistencies is as follows:
• Tuesday, April 4, Betsy Graham, NYS Thruway Authority Spokesperson: “The New York Thruway is funded solely by tolls collected from the customers that utilize the system, and receives no federal or state tax dollars for its operation.” (NYSTA press statement)
• Wednesday, April 5, NYS Thruway Authority Executive Director Michael R. Fleischer: On evening news, Fleischer says NYSTA received no federal funding for 2006, but did receive $3 million in federal funding in 2005. Later in the same newscast, a spokesman for Governor Pataki claims the Thruway receives no federal funds. (Channel 2, 5pm news)
• Wednesday, April 5, NYS Thruway Authority Executive Director Michael R. Fleischer: In a letter to Higgins, Fleischer writes, “... the Thruway Authority received only $3.3 million in Federal operating reimbursement for bridge inspections and pavement striping in 2005,” and, “7.5% of the Thruway Authority’s $2.6 billion capital program is funded with capital aid.” (Letter to Congressman Brian Higgins, April 5, 2006)
In response to these inconsistencies, Higgins pointed out the truth. “The Thruway Authority’s own budgets show that in 2004 it received $159.4 million in federal aid, and in 2006 it received $49 million in federal aid. Furthermore, the federal government spent $193.8 million on I-190 projects alone from 1975 to 2005. How can the Thruway Authority be so unclear about what their own books say?”
Higgins added, “The Thruway Authority needs to be straight with Buffalo residents who are paying a double tax on I-190, first through the tolls and again through the federal gas tax. The I-190 is the only arterial highway in any upstate city on which a toll is imposed. How does that benefit Buffalo?”