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Bridge Tolls

Kruger, Espada, and Diaz Leave MTA Rescue on Life Support

4:58 PM EST on March 5, 2009

The three city reps who nearly derailed the Democratic takeover of the State Senate have issued a joint statement declaring -- transit riders be damned -- they're not going to support bridge tolls. Liz Benjamin at the Daily Politics has the story:

The Three Amigos -- Sens. Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada Jr. and Ruben Diaz Sr. -- who recently reaffirmed their relationship and started strategizing againas a team, today issued a joint statement demanding that the MTA go"back to the drawing board" and do everything possible to avoid tollingthe East and Harlem river bridges.

The three senators are "demanding" that the MTA agree to a forensicaudit conducted by an outside entity and a complete accounting of allits assets - including real estate holdings, which is an issue otherlawmakers have been hammering on for a while now.

The trio is open to the idea of a payroll tax, which is the otherrevenue-generating proposal made by the Ravitch Commission, but calledthe tolls a "non-starter."

With the Democratic majority hanging by a minuscule 32-30 thread and Republicans showing no signs of breaking ranks to support the Ravitch proposals, it would take a unified front in the Senate to pass the rescue plan. The brazen disregard for transit riders displayed by these three lawmakers could very well torpedo any chance to stave off drastic fare hikes and service cuts, shore up the MTA's finances, and keep the subways from slipping into a state of decline.

To better appreciate the fundamental absurdity of their arguments, follow the jump or, better yet, read Liz's full post.

What the amigos might want in exchange (albeit not formally, because
that's illegal) for their support of the MTA bailout is unclear.

During an interview yesterday, I asked Diaz Sr. whether he could
ever see his way clear to supporting tolls, and he seemed to be open to
it - but only if someone would "explain to me, please" how camera
technology is going to make sure drivers from out of state pay their
fair share.

"Why should I be punishing my state and the people from my
district?" Diaz Sr. said. "As soon as the people from my district and
the people of New York are protected, I will support anything that
doesn't punish the need ones."

Diaz Sr. then insisted to me that there are "other ways" to generate
and/or save the revenue necessary to stave off massive fare and toll
hikes. He mentioned two of his own bills - one that would require the
state to buy prescription drugs from Canada and another that would
force ConEd to pay taxes - for starters.

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