MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast told reporters on Wednesday that unless the State budget is finalized with concrete funding for the MTA's 2015-2019 capital plan, his authority will run out of money for new capital projects by June 30th.

"June 30th of this year—that's when we run out of money," Prendergast told reporters after an MTA board meeting Wednesday afternoon. To clarify, the dusty coffers would stall new MTA projects outlined in the 2015-19 capital plan. Projects that have already been approved, but have yet to break ground, would still be able to move forward.

For the last year or so, the MTA has managed to award new capital projects in the 2015-19 plan using cash funds—some federal money and smaller revenue streams independent of City and State funding, plus dribbles diverted from ongoing MTA projects.

"The MTA is basically juggling pots of money and moving things around so that they can keep operating as close to normal as possible," said William Henderson, director of the watchdog group Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, on Wednesday. "The problem is they are getting to the end of that. When you get to that point you make sure that the safety-critical work gets done, whether or not anything else gets done."

Reiterating the importance of the capital plan last summer, then-MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg forecasted the consequences of running down the reserves. The MTA will be "forced to make difficult choices," he said, between new subway cars and buses, replacing tracks, rebuilding switches, and extending the Second Avenue Subway into East Harlem.

Prendergast emphasized on Wednesday that "we have prioritized the awarding of an East Side Access project contract so as not to hold that up.... Certainly issues of safety that need to be dealt with, will be dealt with."

"It's like losing your job and knowing you have to pay rent for so many more months, and so you think, 'I can get through until about June without running out of money,'" Henderson analogized. "By the end of June I have to have a job."

The State and City agreed to fund the MTA's 2015-19 capital plan in October, and Prendergast, a Cuomo appointee, has insisted for months that he is confident the Governor will keep his word. But advocates, State legislators and independent analysts have recently expressed concern that Cuomo's drafted budget proposal includes a vague promise of funding, rather than actual dollars. According to the proposal, funding will only become available once the MTA has drained all of its capital resources from years past.

As of last June, the MTA still had about $10 billion to spend down from the 2010-14 plan. Alan Treffeisen, MTA analyst for the Independent Budget Office, said this week that it would likely take years for the MTA to use up what's left.

The City's $1.8 billion contribution to the MTA, which the Mayor's office confirmed will only be released with the State's $7.3 billion, is also stuck in the wings.

"The MTA, before it can take any money from the State, has to exhaust all of its available sources," said Gene Russianoff of the Riders Alliance during his testimony before the board on Wednesday. "And that's a tough thing to do. It's like one of those fairy tales—I'll give you the money, but first go pick up some clover, and blonde hair, and a magical potion."

Yet Prendergast told reporters on Wednesday that he is still confident that the budget will be approved on schedule, by April 1st. "This particular governor and this legislature has had on-time budgets," he said. "So we'll know something by April 1st, and that's like 12 days away."

Reached for comment, State budget spokesman Peter Morris reiterated that the State's commitment to fund the capital plan is "ironclad," adding, "We're continuing to make progress towards a 6th consecutive on-time budget."

But that budget's fate still rests in the hands of the State legislature, where Senators recently expressed bafflement at Cuomo's drafted language. "I really can't remember any program that we closed down on that we didn't know—to the extent of that amount of money—where it was coming from," Brooklyn Senator Marty Golden told Prendergast in February. This the longest the MTA has ever gone without a funded capital plan—the MTA first signed off on it in September 2014.

Many advocates place blame squarely on Cuomo. "It's his agency, he appoints the leadership, and he gains all sorts of benefits, right?" Russianoff told us. "Cuomo can be there when there's a subway series and when they reopen the R train after 14 months, and that means he has to be there when the agency is in need and its ridership is in need," he said. "And that's where we are now."

The MTA press office did not respond to our questions about the urgency of funding for the MTA 2015-2019 capital plan.