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House transportation bill cuts $564M from New York funding

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CENTRO, which provides bus services for central New York, would lose $2 million a year if the House transportation bill passes.

A six-year highway funding bill passed by the House of Representatives last week would remove $564 million from New York's current federal transportation funding.

A last-minute amendment to the House bill would move $1.6 billion in funding from seven Northeastern states to a general discretionary fund for use by the entire nation. Current law allows these high density areas to receive the extra funding because they account for half of all transit in the country. Sen. Charles Schumer said the loss of funding for New York is a travesty for the state's transit system.

"Many of our smaller agencies operate on very tight budgets with limited capital dollars and this funding cut would be devastating to them," Schumer said.

If the bill passes, the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority, or CENTRO, would lose $2 million a year from its current $66 million budget. It provides bus service to Onondaga, Oswego, Oneida and Cayuga counties. CENTRO Deputy Executive Director Rick Lee said the loss of $12 million over the next six years would force the company to reevaluate its services.

"$2 million buys an awful lot of bus service, buys an awful lot of bus parts and buys an awful lot of busses," Lee said. "Our financing model is very, very tight and so when we receive a decrease in allocation of this amount, it really is devastating."

The Senate's version of the transportation bill, passed earlier this year, would not cut the current funding high density areas like New York receive. Now, as the bill moves to a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions, both Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) and Schumer are promising to restore that funding.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.