Miller: Donít Use Our Children as Leverage

Use common sense to balance the budget
March 2, 2010

In these troubling economic times sending a child to school can be extremely difficult. Recently, the MTA has proposed cutting the Student MetroCard Program in hopes of reducing their budget deficit. The MTA seems to be using our children as leverage to get as much State money as possible.

Student MetroCards were created by the MTA in consultation with the NYC Department of Education. The program was created with the goal of making it easier for struggling families to send their children to school. The service a student receives depends on what grade level he or she is in as well as how far he or she lives from the school. For years the program has assisted families working on tight budgets to help their children grow and flourish.

However, last year the MTA announced that these Student MetroCards may be eliminated as a means of balancing the MTA budget. This would devastate already struggling families. If the cuts are realized, a mother of three would then have to pay $267 for three monthly passes. Furthermore, if the same mother of three has a weekly paycheck of $400, that means she is spending close to 17% of her monthly income on school transportation alone. This is unacceptable.

Once our economic troubles began, the MTA needed assistance from New York State. For the 2010 Budget, they requested $60 million to keep MetroCard program afloat. The $60 million was needed to subsidize the cost of more than 500,000 half price MetroCards. Once my colleagues in the legislature and I found the money to give to the MTA, the MTA Board came back to us stating that the amount that was actually needed was $214 million. This would be the cost of a full price MetroCard instead of half price. This is outrageous. The Student MetroCard program does not need $214 million from New York tax payers to stay active. In fact, funding by the state and city for the program already exceeds the cost of providing this service.

In the few months that I have been in office, I have seen how important these MetroCards are to working families. To cut these services would be a slap in the face to every hard working New Yorker trying to raise a family. I ask you to join with in me in telling the MTA to stop using our children as leverage and give them the MetroCards they deserve.