Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, is criticizing the propose plan to bail out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority because it would implement $1.7 billion in new taxes and fees to raise the money.
Everyone is “looking to tighten their belts” in the current economy “except the MTA, and the Democrats are looking to give them another blank check,” Skelos said on Talk 1300 radio in Albany this morning.
Democrats wants to take $60 million from the state treasury to reimburse school districts for the cost of a payroll tax included in the MTA bailout. Employers would pay 34 cents for every $100 of payroll, except in Putnam, Dutchess and Orange counties, where the tax would be 25 cents for every $100. Senate Democrats, who have a slim 32-30 majority, said they have enough support for their plan and are working with the governor and Democrat-led Assembly on getting it passed.
“That really is a sham because … the governor can cut that next week in terms of additional school aid and certaintly upstate communities probably wouldn’t be too happy with this,” Skelos said.
The only way to protect school districts and make sure they’ll get this money in perpetuity would be to put an amendment in the state constitition, and that’s just not going to happen, Skelos said.
“If you’re looking to protect the school districts, then exempt them. I mean it’s really a charade and an unnecessary effort to say you pay the tax, then we’re going to reimburse you. If you want to protect the school districts, just exempt them,” he said.
Skelos criticized the secrecy of the MTA negotiations. “Again, we have not been brought in as a part of the process,” he said.
Skelos did say he had a quick meeting with the governor yesterday and gave him some suggestions.