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Paterson Pushes Recommended Plan For MTA

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TWC News: Paterson Pushes Recommended Plan For MTA
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Governor David Paterson began circulating a draft of legislation Wednesday that would prevent the need for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to hike fares and cut services.

The bill would implement the recommendations of the Ravitch Commission, which include a new payroll tax and East and Harlem River bridge tolls.

Paterson is pushing the state legislature to act on the Ravitch plan within the next week, before final negotiations on the state budget.

On Tuesday, lawmakers heard directly from MTA board members, who took their case to the halls of the State Capitol.

"I think our trip up there made them think about what this means if they don't pass the legislation," said MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger. "We were very gratified when the governor came out with a statement yesterday which is further pushing the legislators to focus on this."

"It is urgent that Albany take action now in this week, so that we deal with the operating deficit that the MTA has as well as the needs for our next capital program," said MTA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot "Lee" Sander.

MTA officials said the Ravitch plan would fully fund its own five-year capital program.

The State Senate leadership released a statement saying it plans to make a decision on the Ravitch legislation by the end of next week.

Meanwhile, Paterson said today that transportation will be one of his main priorities for spending New York's almost $25 billion in stimulus money from the federal government.

Paterson met today with legislative leaders and Timothy Gilchrist, his senior advisor for infrastructure and transportation.

"The federal government is measuring us by the speed of our compliance and the effectiveness of our programs," said the governor. "But the traditional standards will be rough rather than specific here because we want to get people back to work."

Gilchrist said more than $8 billion will go towards mass transportation, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority receiving $860 million for New York City.

Paterson stresses that all programs funded by the federal aid will be transparent and that his goal is to get unemployed New Yorkers working again.

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