Senate Holding up MTA Bailout in New Ways
April 1st, 2009

It is the nightmare of many transit advocates come true. The coalition of support built up around elements of the Ravitch plan is coming undone thanks to the unwillingness of three legislators to share the burden of a rescue plan for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The gang of three wouldn’t support a toll on East River bridges and now Democratic Senators from the suburbs don’t feel like their communities should be burdened with a payroll tax. The senators who oppose the tax are, Craig Johnson, Brian Foley, Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Suzi Oppenheimer.

With a budget deal finalized negotiations between the three men in the room were reportedly going well early in the week and then they hit a roadblock. “There was a lot of talk about it over the weekend,” said one Senator on Tuesday. “But I haven’t heard much since then.”

Gov. David Paterson addressed the situation at a press conference this morning. “Now the Senate has a problem, we understand, with the mobility tax. And many of them would not vote for the mobility tax even if we exempted some of the school districts in the suburban areas, which was a suggestion.”

Paterson has been urgently pushing for a solution for about a year now. The Assembly has produced what Paterson considers a viable plan, while the Senate has not. And as a result the legislature did not act in time to preempt an MTA vote to raise fares and cut service.

Paterson said that the clock is ticking for the Senate to act. “There comes a point where legislators have to sit in a room and compromise and work these things out,” said Paterson. “I was hoping we would be able to include it in the budget process, but I will continue to implore the Senate, and of course the Assembly, because we haven’t come to a resolution, to work something out.”

Thanks to the slim Democratic majority in the Senate every Democratic Senator needs to be on board for a plan to pass. Advocates have pressed for a bipartisan approach but to say the budget process has strained the already rocky relationship between Democrats and Republicans is an understatement.

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos has asserted that he would want real input over any plan. Democrats have been more than reluctant to give Republicans a seat at any negotiating table.

By on April 1, 2009, 11:53 am
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 4 Comments »

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