Hours after Michael Bloomberg criticized his plan to add a surcharge on taxis to pay for roads upstate, state Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith responded by saying that public officials shouldn’t be “throwing bombs at each other” instead of sitting down “in a room like grown ups” to find a solution.
Smith was on the City Hall steps announcing the formation of a Puerto Rican and Latino Caucus in the State Senate, which will be led by Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx.
Smith was asked repeatedly about his new plan to fund the M.T.A., which Bloomberg said may not actually address the multi-billion-dollar deficit of the agency.
Smith defended the taxi-surcharge component of his plan, saying he was “saddened” anyone would try to “separate New York City from upstate. That is exactly why we’re in this mess right now. You’re trying to tell me with the competition we have from New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and that you now want to separate downstate from upstate? I’m not going to have it.”
Smith also announced at the event that he and a number of his colleagues would travel to Puerto Rico, and later, to India, Israel, China and elsewhere.
When asked if it was appropriate to be leaving the state while a number of “critical issues” remained unresolved, Smith responded, “What critical issues?”
The reporter, the not-to-be-trifled-with Liz Benjamin, explained: “Well, the MTA, for example, mayoral control of schools , gay marriage is still hanging out there, unless, of course, you reach an MTA deal before next weekend.”
“Yes, that’s a possibility,” Smith said.
He said the trips would be paid for by the members themselves, along with funds from the Senate “travel budget.” He did not provide more details.