Paterson rejects Senate's MTA budget deal

Gov. David Paterson rejected a state Senate compromise Tuesday that?s supposed to avoid MTA fare hikes and help plug the budget gap.
The compromise, put forth by state Senate Democrats, would increase commuter fares by 4 percent. That increase is half of what Paterson?s Ravitch Commission proposed last year. The Ravitch Commission was appointed by the governor to come up with a fix for the MTA?s financial situation.
Senate Democrats? plan also includes a payroll tax of 25 cents per $100 as opposed to the Ravitch Commission?s proposed 33 cents. State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said lawmakers are in the dark about the MTA?s own plan and don?t want to give the agency a blank check.
Paterson and other officials said Tuesday the senators? proposal won't even come close to closing the budget gap.
?We believe their math is wrong and [they] just didn't take the time to do their homework,? Paterson said.
State lawmakers have until March 25 to approve a plan or the MTA says it will have to impose service cuts and fare hikes of nearly 30 percent. Riders say it?s definitely not the time to raise prices.
?If fares went up 30 percent, I'll have to reconsider taking the LIRR,? commuter Donald Thompson said. ?I'd be better off driving myself. ?
Paterson said he?ll reach out to the Republicans to come up with an alternative plan.
To watch Paterson's press conference on the compromise, go to Channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.