Albany Continues To Not Get It Or Even Care

The countdown, to a possible transit doomsday for millions is sitting at 8 days. With the date looming, State Senate leaders are expected to release their plan to help the MTA from having to enact their “doomsday scenario“. Lets take a look at the plan in this report from the New York Times’ Nicholas Cofessore and William Neuman:

A proposal to add tolls to bridges over the East and Harlem Rivers to help finance the beleaguered Metropolitan Transportation Authority appears to be dead in the State Senate, as the Democratic majority is preparing to offer on Tuesday a scaled-back, short-term alternative to bail out the authority, two people briefed on that plan said.

Long the third rail of interborough politics in New York City, the tolls were at the heart of a comprehensive plan drafted by Richard Ravitch, a former authority chairman, to stave off severe service cuts and fare increases for the city’s subways and buses.

But after weeks of debate and deliberation, several Democratic senators from Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx remain adamantly opposed to the tolls. And with Democrats holding a bare 32-30 majority in the Senate, and Republicans refusing to provide any votes for the plan, the Senate majority leader, Malcolm A. Smith, has been forced to come up with an alternative plan that could win enough support to pass in his chamber, said one of the two people briefed on the plan. The two people insisted on anonymity because the proposal was not complete.

The Senate proposal, which was presented privately to Democratic Senators on Monday afternoon, includes a 4 percent fare increase, half of what Mr. Ravitch had proposed. It would also impose a tax of 25 cents on every $100 of payroll on employers within the 12 counties served by the authority. That is significantly less than the 34 cents that Mr. Ravitch had proposed.

“The immediate impact would be, all service cuts are restored, fare increases would be cut in half, and there would be no tolls,” said one of the two people briefed on the plan.

Senate staff members have not finished calculating how much revenue their plan would generate. However, it would be far less than Mr. Ravitch’s plan, requiring lawmakers to return to the issue again within months. But one of the two people who were briefed said that since the authority’s capital spending plan was already financed through the end of this year, Senate Democrats believed there was time to return later to find a more comprehensive solution.

Mr. Ravitch has insisted that any short-term or stopgap solution would only exacerbate the authority’s fiscal woes and create a bigger budget hole next year. In an interview last week, Mr. Ravitch said that the defeat of his plan would be “disastrous to the economy and the people of the M.T.A. region.” Mr. Ravitch declined to comment Monday night on the Senate’s counterproposal, saying he did not know the details.

The Ravitch plan was designed to spread the fiscal pain by requiring financial contributions from several groups. Businesses would pay a payroll tax. Riders would pay an 8 percent fare increase. And drivers would pay new bridge tolls.

The rationale was that all three groups should pay because they all benefited from the transit system, including drivers, who would find roads heavily congested without it. Mr. Ravitch hoped his plan would command wide support and head off critics who might complain that one group or another was being singled out.

Click here for the complete report.

Congratulations to our State Leaders for once again showing how inept they really are. While people might assume I am happy at something potentially being done, it could not be further from the truth. As I have said in the past, I am a believer in either getting the job done right or not at all. This proposal does nothing but push the “doomsday scenario” back for a period of time. This is not what is needed as the problems have to be addressed in the present, not the future.

Please do not think I looked forward to possibly paying near 10% more for my rides. However I rather have done that & just gotten it over with as compared to paying 4% now & possibly paying much more later if the real problems are not taken care of. This is just like going to the doctor & getting a shot. Some people squirm or want it done slowly. I am the exact opposite, I look right at the needle & watch it go in on the initial try. No, I am not into needles or partake in any activities with them, I just know it needs to get done so why prolong the process if it is not necessary.

I sincerely hope that Gov. Patterson & others lead the charge for a more legitimate plan as this just won’t cut it in the long haul. Permanent solutions are the only way to go regardless of how good the temporary ones might seem.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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[…] past Tuesday, Senate Democrats led by their majority leader Malcolm Smith released their MTA bailout plan. The plan was slammed by many including Gov. Patterson, who continued his onslaught against it on […]

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