Facing G.O.P. Opposition to M.T.A. Bill, Smith Doesn’t Budge on Upstate Funding

ALBANY—With at least two Democratic state senators saying they won't support a rescue plan for the M.T.A. that includes tolls

ALBANY—With at least two Democratic state senators saying they won't support a rescue plan for the M.T.A. that includes tolls on the East River bridges, and Republicans refusing to support the bailout because it includes a payroll tax and doesn't provide any money for upstate projects, Majority Leader Malcolm Smith has been stalling until he can muster enough votes to pass…something.

I asked Smith about that this morning, and whether he might soften on the upstate funding to entice some Republicans to vote for a plan that includes bridge tolls.

"I think what [Republican Majority Leader] Senator Skelos missed, because he hasn't been attending the briefings on the stimulus package is that the stimulus package is taking care of upstate New York," Smith said. "It's taking care of a lot of their bridges and road projects."

Mark Hansen, a Skelos spokesman, said that there was one briefing, and while Skelos was not present himself, several Republican members were there. Hansen added, "Senator Smith obviously doesn't understand that the stimulus package includes just $1.1 billion for highway and bridge projects and the total highway and bridge capital plan that's about to expire is over $18 billion."

David Paterson was asked the same question, and didn't seem to deem upstate funding part of the equation.

"What we're trying to do is pass the M.T.A. plan as quickly as we can," Paterson said. Facing G.O.P. Opposition to M.T.A. Bill, Smith Doesn’t Budge on Upstate Funding