Doomsday Has Been Averted For Now!

Gov. Paterson must be smiling as his demand of a bill being passed has been met. Although it was not by the end of Tuesday as he had originally request, he should be satisfied knowing an agreement is in place. Lets get the details from Politicker NY’s Jimmy Vielkind:

With exhausted relief and little fanfare, David Paterson and legislative leaders announced an agreement on a $2.26 billion bailout bill for the M.T.A. during a Red Room press conference this evening. It is expected to be passed by legislators tomorrow.

“This agreement will allow the M.T.A. to continue its critical infrastructure repair programs and will ensure also that they will be able to do that through 2011 unimpeded,” Paterson said. The plan is the product of months of negotiations and back-and-forth, but is based largely on a framework put forward by the State Senate last month. The bill will contain:

— $1.5 billion from a payroll tax of 34 cents per $100 of payroll at every employer in the 12-county M.T.A. service area. To satisfy two holdout suburban legislators, a provision will mandate that the state reimburse school districts for what they contribute to that plan

— $500 million from a 10 percent fare increase. The base fare for a single ride in the transit system will rise from $2 to $2.25, but exactly how prices for monthly and weekly passes change must still be sorted out by the authority’s board. This hike is less than the one laid out in a doomsday scenario enacted by the M.T.A. Paterson also said that there will be additional fare hikes in 2011 and 2013 of 7.5 percent

— $85 million from a fifty-cent surcharge on taxi rides in the 12-county service area

— $130 million from a $25 fee on motor vehicle registration in the 12-county service area

— $10.5 million from an increase in the fee on driver’s licenses in the 12-county service area

— $35 million from an increase in the tax on rental cars

Of the overall amount raised, $400 million will be diverted to fund $6.5 billion of capital projects over the next two years. No money in this package is being set aside for upstate roads and bridges; Paterson and legislative leaders pledged this will be dealt with this fall.

Click here for the complete report.

Now lets take a look at the New York Times report from William Neuman & Nicholas Confessore:

After months of stalled negotiations among state leaders, Gov. David A. Paterson announced on Tuesday a long-awaited deal to rescue the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that will hold the increase in the base subway fare this year to 25 cents.

Under the deal, the base fare for a single bus or subway ride would rise to $2.25 from $2. The cost of a monthly MetroCard would probably rise to about $89 from $81, according to officials in the Legislature. Other fares and tolls, including tickets on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, would go up about 10 percent.

The agreement would prevent a 20 to 30 percent increase in fares and tolls that was set to go into effect within weeks, and stave off deep service cuts.

The plan calls for a payroll tax, a surcharge on taxi rides and increases in vehicle-registration and license fees and the auto-rental tax.

Officials said that the rescue plan will help the authority get through a financial crisis in which it faced growing budget deficits, made even worse as tax revenues shrink in the slumping economy.

It will also provide financing for at least the first two years of the authority’s 2010 to 2014 capital program, which pays for key maintenance and modernization projects needed to keep the transit and commuter rail system in good repair.

The breakthrough to limit the fare hike came after months of agonizing stalemate and brinksmanship in Albany. The base subway and bus fare was scheduled to rise to $2.50 on May 31; monthly MetroCards would have increased to $103.

The plan announced on Tuesday calls for fares and tolls to rise again in 2011 and 2013, each time by enough to increase revenues from those sources by 7.5 percent.

Click here for the complete report.

While the passage won’t be official until tomorrow, I will answer the question for those who might wonder how I feel. I am absolutely livid that this proposal will pass. This proposal fails miserably at creating sustainable long term solutions for funding the MTA. The fact this bill will include money for the MTA Capital Program in the short term does nothing to sway me to support it.

Now it is a virtual lock that we will see politicians accepting praise for “saving the MTA & its riders” when in reality they have done nothing but push back the inevitable. The time is already here for Albany to create sustainable long term funding solutions. By pushing back “doomsday”, Albany does nothing but add more pressure to create long term solutions while dealing with a budget deficit that has grown even bigger.

So I will remain with the belief that starving off the “doomsday scenario” is not a cause for celebration but the exact opposite, a cause for sadness. The truth is in the numbers & if you really believe that, Albany’s proposal to “save the MTA” is a few too many dollars short…….

xoxo Transit Blogger

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I’m hearing that there will be a vote tomorrow. I thought i’ts a done deal.

Hello Abba,

It seems to be a done deal. However the legal process of approving it has to be done which did not take place yesterday.

So they postponed the inevitable? You want a permanent solution. Sorry to bring you the bad news but that’s how life works. We put off the inevitable but eventually everyone alive will die. Even the sun will burn itself out one day and end everything. All we can do it take things day by day and try and make that day a good one. So if we make it through 2011 with MTA funding for capital projects that is great. In 2011 life will hopefully go on and we can work on the next few years. Nothing in life is guaranteed or permanent. NOTHING. So if your looking for that stop knocking yourself out.

Hello Richard,

Comparing this situation to the inevitable death we all face is preposterous at best.

The facts are clear as day & that is sustainable funding solutions need to be put in place now, not later.

Taking the attitude of everything will be great if we make it through 2011 is the exact kind of thinking that will worsen this crisis as compared to fixing it.

When the MTA is back on the brink of financial ruin in no time (which will happen, this is not debatable), what will you say then? Don’t worry, everything will be ok with this latest stop-gap measure until something better comes along?

Sorry but that will not work & if you think so, then I must tell you that you are way off base with the dynamics of this situation.

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