ALBANY—Michael Bloomberg and his top aides are here lobbying for education aid with U.F.T. President Randi Weingarten. They spoke to reporters on the Great Western Staircase about meetings with David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Minority Leader Dean Skelos (Bloomberg said Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco was "out of town at the moment." Hmmmm.)
Yesterday, Bloomberg told New Yorkers to direct their rage over the M.T.A.'s deficit at state legislators in Albany; today, the authority's board enacted its doomsday budget.
But the mayor didn't particularly want to discuss it again.
"We really didn't talk about the M.T.A. today," Bloomberg said. "We're here to talk about education and we wanted to make sure that we focused on that. As you know, for the last two years I've been trying to work on the M.T.A., and certainly yesterday addressed the issue, but what I tried to do with Randi today is to focus on this particular issue. I think when you try to do too many things at the same time it sort of takes away the message. We do need mass transit. We do need affordable mass transit. Our city survives with that and can't survive without it, and there'll be plenty of time tomorrow to talk about that."
While stimulus money has been earmarked for education, Bloomberg and Weingarten are lobbying to make sure New York schools get enough of it.
Asked for further comment, Bloomberg said, "Today there was vote. We are not going to close down mass transit. If it takes us to raise the fares to a level that really hurts people, the alternative of closing it down would be even worse," he said. "I do think it's the responsibility of Albany to come up with a plan. We had our plan. The governor deserves some credit–he had a study done. Shelly deserves some credit, he has gone with a different plan than I would have done, a different plan than what Ravitch would have done, but all of these things have commonality and get fed from each other. So now it's up to the Senate to do something."