ALBANY—Sheldon Silver has a new idea about finding Republican allies as lawmakers seek consensus around a package to fund the M.T.A. – look upstate.
"They should be on line first to make sure there's a well-funded M.T.A. capital plan," Silver said to reporters after giving a speech to T.W.U. Local 100, whose members are at the Capitol today lobbying. He said that since buses and train cars are manufactured upstate in cities like Hornell and Plattsburgh, legislators from those districts should be eager to reach agreement to help the authority fund its $1.2 billion operating deficit and capital plan.
"The constituents in those districts have a stake in making sure there's a well-funded M.T.A. capital plan. That produces jobs in those districts, and those senators have absolutely nothing to lose – they're not taxing anybody in their district – by going through."
Some state senate Democrats suggested the same thing to me today. T.W.U. has been on the air with a radio ad specifically mentioning the three Republican state senators from New York City – Marty Golden, Frank Padavan and Andrew Lanza – as the prime targets of lobbying.
Yesterday, Golden gave a frigid reception to the idea, telling me he won't "man up" until Democrats call him to the table.
Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said that he had reached out to Minority Leader Dean Skelos, and staffs are beginning to meet.
"We view the M.T.A. as a non-partisan issue," Shafran said.
According to Shafran, the representatives of upstate communities that have manufacturing operations but wouldn't be affected by any surcharges or hikes are State Senators Tom Libous, George Winner, Betty Little and Joe Griffo.