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Bridge Tolls

Fare Hike Four Open Door to Suburban Copycats

11:59 AM EDT on April 1, 2009

It seems like only yesterday that the three men emerged from their room with vague talk of an emerging scheme to spare transit riders -- temporarily, at least -- the pain of fare hikes and service cuts required, minus help from Albany, to keep the MTA afloat. But as the Times reports, a new development would catch the triumvirate flat-footed.

At a meeting later in the afternoon with Mr. Paterson, a group of senators from suburban districts told him they would not support the payroll tax.

The senators were Craig M. Johnson of Nassau County, Brian X. Foley of Suffolk County, and Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Suzi Oppenheimer, both of Westchester County.

"I’m very uncomfortable with the proposed payroll tax," Mr. Foley said later in an interview. "Suffolk County is in the outer ring of the service area. Our businesses would be paying into a system that they don’t get much out of."

Both the Times and Daily News point out that opposition to the payroll tax is not unexpected. Now that it's out in the open, however, lawmakers are reportedly scrambling, with Sheldon Silver suggesting that a "little time out would be helpful." Before the breakdown, everything from higher vehicle registration fees to a 50-cent cab surcharge was said to be under consideration.

Amid the chaos, one thing appears certain. Said a spokesman for Malcolm Smith to the Times: "Everything [is] still on the table 'except tolls.'"

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