After (what else) a closed-door meeting yesterday, State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith emerged optimistic that the final votes for an MTA bailout plan had been tentatively secured. The last two holdouts, two Long Island Democrats, were finally won over by Governor Paterson’s idea to reimburse school districts for the payroll taxes that are part of the package. So with a seemingly intractable stalemate finally broken, the MTA’s looming fare hikes and service cuts will likely be prevented, or at least mitigated. But the New York press, apparently glass-half-empty types, are crying foul.
See, today’s papers focus on the fact that the plan only plugs a temporary budget hole with a hodgepodge of taxes and fees, but doesn’t come close to solving the MTA’s long-term problems. A Post editorial says Paterson “folded up like a worn-out accordion” by backing the “jerry-rigged spending plan,” the Daily News claims Paterson is allowing “the roof to fall in on subway and bus riders,” and the Times simply calls the plan “a loser.” Certainly, they’re right that the plan is just a short-sighted fix — though it’s unclear why it’s the governor’s fault that some outer-borough politicians staunchly opposed to bridge tolls put the kibosh on the actually useful Richard Ravitch plan. But still, the State Senate is going to pass something. Something! And our subway fares will only moderately increase, not skyrocket. This is Albany we’re talking about here. It’s sad, but if we don’t celebrate the minor accomplishments, we’d never celebrate at all.