ALBANY—Here’s a great trio: David Paterson, who is urging action on a rescue package for the M.T.A. that includes bridge tolls and a payroll tax; State Senator Carl Kruger, who has called tolls a tax on the outer boroughs and vowed to vote against any package that includes them; and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who is under pressure to come up with some proposal that will get the 32 votes needed to pass his chamber.
Smith told reporters earlier today (many thanks to Danny Hakim for helping with the audio) that tolls are still on the table, but that he is listening to the ideas his members—including Kruger—are putting forward.
“My members and I are speaking and I will hear those suggestions,” Smith said. He’s still not sure about the March 25 deadline, after which the M.T.A. has said it will enact its “doomsday” budget.
“It’s where I told you I was in the past,” he said. “The M.T.A. doesn’t have great relationship with fiscal responsibility. So everyone’s cautious as to whether they need a resource, obviously, when it went from $5 to $2,” he said referring to the difference between plans proposed by the Ravitch Commission and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
When asked, Paterson said he was sticking by the March 25 deadline.
“We’re trying to find a plan that will be agreeable to anyone,” Paterson said.