Bloomberg questions Senate's MTA plan

April 23, 2009 4:39:33 PM PDT
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is critical the latest plan to bailout the MTA.

He objects to the latest proposal that includes a taxi fee, half of which would fund upstate and Long Island roads and bridges.

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith plans to submit his bill Friday so it could be voted on under the Legislature's rules by early next week.

Smith, a Democrat, still believes a bailout can pass.

His plan includes a dollar surcharge on every taxi ride. A lot of that money would go to fix bridges and highways on Long Island and upstate.

But Mayor Bloomberg is troubled by the plan.

"I'm a little bit bothered by a proposal that would put a taxi fare surcharge here in the city to build roads upstate," he said.

Smith said he is offended that Bloomberg is willing to exclude upstate and Long Island from the deal.

"I am actually offended that somebody would think that you can separate New York City from the rest of the state," Smith said. "Let me tell you why I am saddened by anybody in this state that would try to separate New York City from Upstate New York. That is exactly why we are in this mess right now."

Senate Smith needs 33 votes to pass his proposal to prevent the Doomsday plan.

A bailout is intended to avoid a 23-percent increase in fares and service cuts by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to cover a $1.2 billion budget shortfall.

On Thursday afternoon, hundreds of transit workers also protested that Doomsday budget, which also includes thousands of layoffs.

"We didn't cause this mess. Wall Street caused this mess," one speaker told the crowd.

Union leaders fear Albany will not ride to the rescue in time.

"I highly urge the state legislature to put your partisan politics aside and do what is right for New Yorkers," Mike Ford of the Carpenters Union said.

Smith's proposal faces an uphill battle, as many Republicans say the plan is just plain nutty.

"It's an insult to the people upstate and it's an insult to the people of the city of New York," State Senator Martin Golden of Brooklyn said.

Golden does not believe Smith has the votes to pass the proposal.

Regardless, Smith said he is confident that the MTA bailout will be behind us by the end of next week.