The New York State Senate Democratic majority offered a new rescue package for the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority late Monday. The proposal would raise $1.76 billion annually, which includes debt service on $1.2 billion of bonds that would finance road, bridge and rail projects in upstate New York and Long Island, Austin Shafran, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, said. The proposal would eliminate service cuts and reduce fare and toll yield hikes to 8% from the 23% the MTA board approved last month, Shafran said.
A bill will be introduced this week and brought to a floor vote next week, Shafran said.
Absent from the proposal was tolling on certain East River bridges. That was part of a proposal by a Governor-appointed commission led by former MTA chairman Richard Ravitch. Shafran said that part of the proposal, which was unpopular with some lawmakers whose constituents would have been affected, was nixed because maintenance on the aging bridges would become a financial liability for the users of mass transit.
The revenue raising measures would only be imposed on the 12 counties served by the MTA.
The largest revenue piece is a payroll tax that would charge 34 cents per $100 and would raise an estimated $1.49 billion annually. The proposal would also impose a $1 per ride fee on taxi rides that would raise $190 million per year and be split evenly between the MTA and to pay for debt service on $1.2 billion of bonds for Long Island and upstate transportation projects to be sold through an issuer yet to be determined.
Other fees include a $25 increase on motor vehicle registration to raise $130 million, and increases on car rental taxes and drivers licenses.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, who backed a version of the Ravitch commission recommendations that included bridge tolling, said he had not had a chance to review the project yet but was prepared to look at it seriously. “I am willing to support any plan that provides a stable, long term funding stream for mass transit and apportions the burden equitably among everyone who has a stake in the MTA’s future,” Silver said in a statement.
The proposal also includes a number of regulations Shafran said would increase transparency at the MTA.