With the MTA’s financial future on the line, the Ravtich Recommendations are an important set of measures various state agencies can implement. While the city will eventually have to decide on the East River bridge toll centerpiece, the state senate seems to be doing its part to bail out the MTA.
As the Daily News reports today, State Senate Democrats are ready to support a new payroll tax as per the Ravitch Recommendations. The money from this one percent tax will help fill the MTA’s depleted coffers. Glenn Blain has more:
Senate Democrats are ready to support a new payroll tax to help rescue the MTA. Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who previously opposed imposing new taxes, said Democrats would support the proposed tax if the business community agrees to it.
“It’s really the last thing we want to take a look at, however, this is a classic example, I think, of shared sacrifice,” Smith said Thursday.
The tax of one-third of 1% is a key component of the financial bailout plan crafted by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch. It would affect payrolls in New York City and the other counties the MTA serves. Smith noted that most business groups, including the Partnership for New York City, have expressed support for the tax. Ravitch’s plan, which has the support of Gov. Paterson, is intended to plug the MTA’s $1.2 billion budget gap and head off draconian fare hikes and service cuts.
According to Blain, Ravitch journeyed up to Albany to meet with State Senate leaders this week. Over the next month, in advance of the MTA’s March 25th drop-dead date, two State Senate committees will hold joint hearings on the Ravitch recommendations. Time is clearly of the essence.
Meanwhile, for MTA watchers, this development is clearly good news. If Albany passes half of the Ravitch-inspired bailout plan, the focus — and pressure — will shift to the city. Council members will face increased pressure to approve either the East River bridge tolls or some form of monetary relief — car licensing fees, congestion pricing — for the MTA. Our transit system might just be saved yet.