Sneak Peek At The Ravitch Commission Proposals

As we all know by now the MTA is in a deep financial crisis. The budget deficit continues to grow with each passing day & some wonder when we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many people are pinning their hopes on proposals from the 12 deep Ravitch Commission. The commission headed by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch was created to recommend strategies to fund MTA capital projects and operating needs over the next ten years.

Earlier this evening New York Times reporter William Neuman along with contributions from Charles V. Bagli and Sam Roberts brought us a sneak peek at some of the proposals that will be presented next month:

A state commission appointed by Gov. David A. Paterson is expected next week to propose a rescue package for the financially imperiled Metropolitan Transportation Authority that includes a new tax on corporate payrolls and tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges, several people informed of the plan said on Wednesday.

The commission, led by Richard Ravitch, a former chairman of the authority, will also recommend an increase next year in fares on subways, buses and commuter railroads, as well as in tolls on the bridges and tunnels it currently controls. But those increases would be much smaller than the ones the authority recently outlined in its proposed budget for next year.

The commission is also expected to call for minimal cuts, if any, in transit service. The plan, which is due to be released by Dec. 5, will contain recommendations to the governor, subject to passage by the Legislature.

The people familiar with the rescue plan cautioned that it is still being refined and may change as Mr. Ravitch tries to win the support of elected officials like Mr. Paterson and state legislative leaders. Mr. Ravitch is expected to meet with the governor in the coming days to present a final version of the plan.

Opposition to some of the plan’s central elements is sure to be strong. Despite the growing problems at the authority, most elected officials have remained publicly uncommitted about how to help it, saying only that they were awaiting the commission’s report.

So far the strongest show of support has come from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, who said last week that he was open to raising taxes or creating a new tax to support the authority.

It was not clear, however, whether Mr. Silver or other legislators would support instituting tolls for the bridges. Bridge tolls are seen by many as similar to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan to charge drivers for entering Manhattan on its busiest streets; that plan died in the Legislature this year, largely because of opposition from Assembly Democrats.

Click here for the complete report.

I really want to wait until the full proposals come out before I comment point by point. However at first glance, I can tell you one part of the proposal that is a bad idea. The part I am referring to is the tax increase on corporate payrolls. I can’t even begin to say how bad of an idea this is. As I said I will wait until the full plan is announced before going “all-in” with my thoughts.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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[…] are a little over a day away from the complete Ravitch Commission report being released. However over the last 7-10 days details of the proposals have been leaked […]

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