N.Y. Senate Dems unveil MTA bailout plan
Democrats in the New York Senate unveiled a short-term rescue plan Tuesday for the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority that is expected to save money for millions of motorists.
Under the proposed plan, the city's river crossings will remain free, but a 4 percent subway fare hike will be implemented to help close a $1.2 billion deficit in the MTA's 2009 budget. The Ravitch Commission, created by Gov. David Paterson and headed by former MTA chief Richard Ravitch, had previously recommended a more drastic fare increase.
"They have an 8 percent fare hike," says state Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. "We believe you can do better than that. We can bring that down to 4 percent."
The bailout plan also features a payroll tax proposal, under which companies in a 12-county area would have to pay 25 cents in tax on every $100 they pay their workers.
One aspect of the MTA's fiscal crisis that is not being addressed by the Democrats' plan is the agency's capital construction and maintenance program, which helps fund routine train and track work. Large-scale projects, like the construction of the Second Avenue subway line, have also not been addressed.
Gov. Paterson and members of the Ravitch Commission favor a more long-term solution that would require a 33 percent payroll tax, an 8 percent fare hike and new bridge tolls. They say failure to implement a broader plan of action that would also include funding for repair and construction projects could derail service altogether.
"The public is on notice," Ravitch says. "If repairs are not made, this system will slip back to where it was in 1970s."