Payroll tax for MTA bailout gets lambasted

The state Legislature's vote to approve a bailout package for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has many across the Hudson Valley fuming.

Under the $2.26 billion bailout plan, the MTA's proposed fare increases of up to 30 percent will be eliminated. Instead, fares will still go up between 8 percent and 10 percent. Monthly passes will go from $81 to $89 - a dollar more than previous proposals.

The bill passed with a controversial employer payroll tax, which some Albany lawmakers originally opposed. Bill Mooney, of the Westchester County Association, says the tax is unfair.

"This is a wrong-headed tax," says Mooney. "You're putting a tax on business[es], non-profits, hospitals, and these people have to do their jobs and doing it in the worst economy."

Officials at local hospitals say the payroll tax will hit them hard. At White Plains Hospital, officials say money from the state has already been cut by $1.3 million. The payroll tax is expected to cut another $400,000.

"We're the safety net for our community," says John Schandler, of White Plains Hospital. "We've been absolutely destroyed in the state budget ... millions and billions have been taken out of hospital coffers [and] nobody is suggesting we deliver less care."

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