New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to charge people driving in a large area of southern Manhattan died in the New York Legislature yesterday.

The program that was intended to generate revenue that would have backed $4.5 billion of bonds to fund mass transit projects for the state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA had identified those bonds as a funding source for a $29.55 billion six-year capital plan.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, told reporters in Albany that the measure did not have a majority of support of his conference and would not be brought to the floor for a vote.

"The conference has decided that they are not prepared to do congestion pricing,'' Silver said, according to the Associated Press. "Many members just don't believe in the concept. Many think this proposal is flawed.''

Yesterday was the deadline for the Legislature to okay the proposal in order to qualify for $354 million of federal funds to help implement the program. The New York City Council approved the plan last week.

Bloomberg spokesman John Gallagher blasted the Legislature.

"What we are witnessing today is one of the biggest cop-outs in New York's history," Gallagher said in a statement. "They owe it to the majority of New Yorkers who support this plan, the scores of environmental groups, public health organizations, business leaders, unions, and the public at large, to put this proposal to a public vote."

The MTA's board approved a special six-year capital as part of the legislation that created a process under which the congestion pricing plan was to be considered. Even without congestion pricing the MTA's capital plan had a $9.31 billion funding gap.

The MTA did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

Many observers blamed the congestion pricing controversy for holding up negotiations on the state's budget which is now a week late. Yesterday the Legislature planned to take up an emergency funding measure to keep the government running in the absence of an approved fiscal 2009 budget. Gov. David Paterson already signed a bill to ensure the state pays debt service on outstanding bonds.

 

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