Closed-Door Meeting on MTA Yields More Finger Pointing
April 27th, 2009
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver did not have much new to offer as they departed a leaders meeting with Gov. David Paterson this evening. What they did offer were more attacks on the Republican leadership for not supporting their various MTA rescue plans. “I’m not frustrated as much as I’m disappointed in the fact that the Republicans at this point are only worried about getting the majority back in ‘10,” said Smith. “That’s what this is coming down to.”
Silver went to greater lengths to place blame on the backs of the Republicans. “This should not be about Democrats and Republicans,” said Silver. ‘There are Republican commuters and there are representatives of Republicans who represent commuters who face the largest increases on the Long Island Rail Road who are not standing up and responding on this plan. They are standing and saying, ‘We are not voting for it because my Republican conference leader does not want me to vote for it.’”
But Smith acknowledged what has become obvious to critics of the MTA rescue plans the majority leader has proposed: At this point discussions are no longer about what would be best for the MTA and the public but simply about producing something that can make it through the Senate. “It’s not about merit,” said Smith, “It’s just about what gets us there with the votes that we need to get it passed.”
Silver seemingly echoed Smith’s sentiments. When asked if he could support the Senate plan that has come under fire for a $1 fee on taxi drop-offs and its ability to actually produce enough money to patch the MTA deficit, Silver said it simply comes down to votes. “I can support a bill that has 32 votes in the Senate that we can look at seriously,” said Silver.
Paterson later told reporters that he was “offended” that negotiations have come down to “issues of voting.” Paterson said he is still talking to Senate Republicans about what he can do to garner their support. Republicans are generally against any payroll tax and want to make sure significant funding for upstate roads and bridges is included in any MTA rescue plan.
The MTA said today that it will face a $621 million deficit even after all the currently approved fare increases and service cuts are enacted.
A vote is expected on the Senate MTA rescue plan on Wednesday.By David King on April 27, 2009, 7:57 pm
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