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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Espada and the MTA's New Rescue Plan

Whether he actually lives in the Bronx or not, State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. appears to be residing smack in the middle of the state legislature's efforts to avoid the massive fare hikes and service cuts the MTA approved last month.

While adamantly opposed to any tolls on the East and Harlem river bridges, Espada and other politicians began pushing a new rescue plan, proposed by Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (Queens) on Monday, that would include a payroll tax.

In a press release, Espada said:

“By not giving in to the MTA’s threats, demands and fear-mongering, we will achieve the democratization of the agency that allows participation by citizens. We will achieve total transparency and accountability of the MTA, and we will achieve all of this without service cuts and a toll, and with a modest fare increase spread over two years.”

But four senators in nearby suburban counties -- Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Craig Johnson, Brian Foley and Suzi Oppenheimer (the new Gang of Four) -- are opposing the payroll tax as a deal-breaker.

One source who declined to give his name said today that he thought Albany leaders had hammered out a "three-way deal," meaning the Governor, Assembly and Senate, on the rescue plan and it was just a matter of time until its announced. We will not hold our breath.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups like the Working Families Party and Transportation Alternatives are publicly pushing Albany lawmakers to get something, anything, done to prevent these cuts and fare hikes and to do it now. Basically, they're saying that politicians are quick to reject plans, but nobody is willing to actually get anything done.

As Dan Levitan of the Working Families Party said today: "No, is not enough."


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