The Republicans Who Could Avert Doomsday?

ALBANY—A handful of State Senate Republicans may be preparing to budge on plans to bail out the M.T.A., which are currently stalled in the Democratic-controlled body.

State Senator Betty Little, whose district includes the northern counties of the Adirondacks, said she could go along with something if money is also provided for surface transportation.

"It has always been done with roads and bridges, and my district is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island put together, and we need a lot of money for roads and bridges. Decoupling those two is very, very difficult," State Senator Betty Little said. I asked if she could go along with a plan that included a payroll tax that has been decried by her conference leader, Minority Leader Dean Skelos. None of Little's constituents would pay such a tax.

"I probably could. I certainly would have to look at all the issues involved, but I think the mass transit is very important for New York City," she said. "Certainly the M.T.A. capital plan is very important to Bombardier, which is in my district, as well as many of the other people that supply them."

I also called State Senator Joe Robach, who was once an enrolled Democrat and is generally mentioned as someone who can be reached out to across party lines. I asked him if David Paterson had called him.

"No," he said flatly. "I really can't comment. I don't know much about it. No one has brought up the M.T.A. so I really don't know enough to say anything." He says he's focusing on issues more germane to his Rochester-area district.

Meanwhile, State Senator Frank Padavan sent a letter to Paterson Tuesday, saying "I stand ready to work with you and my legislative colleagues on building a financial rescue plan that puts the MTA in sound and strong fiscal standing today and in the future."

He decried Paterson for a process that he said had shut him and fellow Republicans out of the process thus far, but said, "Based on the urgency and severity of the situation facing commuters, transit riders and taxpayers in the 12 county MTA region, it is imperative for you to call upon Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Smith to start genuine bipartisan discussions among all state legislators that will hopefully forge a fair and equitable solution for the problems facing the MTA."

The Republicans Who Could Avert Doomsday?