ALBANY—Along party lines, the State Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance the chamber's bill to bail out the M.T.A. even as its passage looks unlikely. Its sponsor acknowledged that it will likely be amended and said it simply "starts a conversation."
"I'm going to do whatever is necessary," State Senator Martin Malave Dilan said. He said that Majority Leader Malcolm Smith is looking to replace a $1 taxi drop-off fee with a document fee for all cars sold or leased around the state.
Dilan said that fee could raise around $180 million. It would force people buying cars to pay one percent of the value of the vehicle, up to $300, at the time of purchase or a lease agreement.
"I'm just convinced that the taxi industry has been hit too hard," Dilan said. (He was involved in drafting the bill that included the taxi drop-off fee.)
During a hearing of the Transportation Committee, Republicans blasted the proposal. To pass the bill, Smith had been hoping to garner at least some votes from across the aisle.
"Why are you punishing 12 counties?" State Senator Bill Larkin, who represents Orange and Ulster counties, asked. "We get a lot of taxes all goes to the M.T.A. and we don't see anything from it. If it's good for New York, re-draft your bill so that the whole state pays for it."
The "doc fee" Dilan floated would apply statewide, and some of the revenue generated would go to fund upstate roads and bridges. In recent days, David Paterson has said he was not pleased with the proposed taxi surcharge.
Paterson and Democratic legislative leaders will meet this evening to discuss a framework for a bailout. Dilan said he hoped the Senate's bill—which now sits before the finance committee—will help by "moving the conversation forward."