The countdown to the possible enactment of the “doomsday scenario” is exactly a week away. The prospects of adverting this disaster took a major blow when Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith’s plan was practically D.O.A.
The plan which I blogged about yesterday was nothing more than a band-aid solution to a flesh wound problem. Some of the heavy hitters in Albany including Gov. Patterson & Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver agreed as they shot the plan down as soon as it came out. Ken Lovett, Glenn Blain, & Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has more in this report:
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith’s universally panned MTA bailout appears dead on arrival – leaving riders closer to sky-high fare hikes and service cuts.
Not only did the Democratic governor and Assembly speaker blast the stop-gap plan Tuesday, but the head of the Senate Finance Committee rejected it, too.
“I don’t think a piecemeal approach will accomplish the goals,” state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) told the Daily News.
Without a bailout, the agency will have to raise fares and tolls by up to 30% in June, officials have said. Service cuts slated to start in the spring include shutting down 21 local bus routes.
Smith’s plan would impose a payroll tax on businesses and raise fares 4% to fund day-to-day operations. Current levels of service could be maintained, Smith said.
His plan doesn’t help pay for the next five-year capital construction and maintenance program, which starts in January and is unfunded.
That program should get between $25 billion and $30 billion to keep the system safe and reliable, and to expand it, MTA CEO Elliot Sander has said.
Smith said his plan addresses the more immediate problem facing the authority and riders, and leaves time to deal with the rest of the crisis.
The MTA and Gov. Paterson’s office said the Queens Democrat’s plan is flawed with miscalculations that would result in a $1.1 billion shortfall over two years.
The Ravitch proposal would fund both the operating and capital budgets, scale back fare hikes to 8% and avert service cuts.
Click here for the complete report.
Now lets take a look at a similar report from William Neuman & Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times:
In an intensifying battle among Democrats, Gov. David A. Paterson on Tuesday flatly rejected a Senate version of a rescue plan for the financially troubled Metropolitan Transportation Authority and said he would continue to push for tolls on the East and Harlem River bridges.
Mr. Paterson chided the Democratic majority in the Senate for choosing what he described as a short-term solution that left big holes in future budgets at the authority. His strong stance suggested that the debate over how to prevent sharp fare increases and service cuts could drag late into the budget season.
“The solution must be taken now,” Mr. Paterson said. “Unfortunately there seems to be a belief that these types of issues can be deferred into some sort of future activity. This is what’s gotten Albany in trouble time and time again.”
The governor was asked if there were any way the Senate plan could be adopted and provide a solution for the authority’s problems.
H. Dale Hemmerdinger, the transportation authority’s chairman, said that the Senate plan fell short of meeting the authority’s needs by about $1 billion. To make up for it, he said, the Senate plan would require a fare increase of 17 percent instead of its proposed 4 percent.
“We believe their math is wrong, and they just didn’t take the time to do their homework,” Mr. Hemmerdinger said.
Click here for the complete report.
I applaud Gov. Patterson & others for seeing how ridiculous Malcom’s plan was. It was quite clear that the proposal was not well thought out if at all. We are a week away from the MTA Board possibly voting to enact their “doomsday scenario” & this is the best Malcolm could come up with. Either he is truly clueless to how dire this situation really is (possible considering he questioned the MTA’s deadline considering it is part of the state’s law!) or he just does not care.
Either way, his plan needed to be killed right away as it would do more harm than good, if it did any at all. The prospects of the “doomsday scenario” being avoided are looking bleaker & bleaker as each day goes by. For millions of riders, this will just be another screwjob on top of the many Albany has given out over the years. Sigh……….
xoxo Transit Blogger