MTA Rescue Plan Full Steam Ahead
April 22nd, 2009
Senate Democrats intend to post draft legislation of their MTA rescue plan on the internet later today. They expect to introduce the bill on Friday. A vote would then be possible on Monday. Sen. Kevin Parker told the Gazette today that negotiations are ongoing but are moving ahead at a steady pace.† Austin Shafran, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, confirmed Parker’s statements. Shafran emphasized that the bill will be online where the public can scrutinize it and provide input.
The Senate Democrats were attacked for their first MTA proposal. Critics called that plan a stopgap measure. Shafran said he expected the bill would be online by later today and introduced “later this week.” He would not confirm that the bill will come to a vote on Monday but said the bill would likely be “eligible for vote” by then.
Senate Democrats unveiled a new rescue plan earlier this week. The plan does not have tolls on East River and Harlem bridges–instead the plan would charge motorists in the MTA service region $25 more to register their vehicles and $12 more for a regular license. A payroll tax would be instituted, with city based businesses paying a higher tax than those in the suburbs. The bill would also implement more oversight over the MTA by requiring an outside audit and requiring the MTA to post information including† it’s budget, capital plan online. The legislature would also be allowed to line-item veto parts of the MTA capital plan.
According to Senate spokesmen, the plan would keep the MTA fare increases at 8 percent and would avoid service cuts.
However, suburban Democrats in the Senate have stood against any payroll tax, just as some senators have stood firmly against any tolls on bridges.† Gov. David Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have said they are considering the plan.
Republicans have voiced concern that the bill does not offer enough funding for upstate roads and bridges. Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos has expressed his displeasure with payroll taxes.† But Demcorats still hope that Republican Senators who have a stake in the MTA will get on board.
As for questions about where Senate Democrats will get all the votes they need for the bill, Parker said he thought that “all legislators from the MTA region have a ball in the game.”By David King on April 22, 2009, 1:24 pm
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