Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Malcolm gets a phone call

From AM-NY:

State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said Monday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has agreed to share additional financial information he wanted before considering legislation to bail the transit agency out of its financial crisis.

The Queens senator said fellow Democrats in his chamber wanted to see the MTA's finances before considering new measures to bolster the MTA, including tolls over East River bridges. The transit agency has projected a $1.2 billion deficit in its operating budget next year and a $3 billion gap by 2012.

Smith said the new information will open "a full vetting of MTA finances, which will allow us to determine the best course of action to address the MTA's budget shortfall."

But then...

Five hours after Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith threatened to slam the breaks on new money for the MTA, the Queens Democrat scrapped his plan for an independent audit of the agency.

Smith stated that the agency provided information about its finances that the Senate previously “had not been privy to.”

“It is now possible for a full vetting of MTA finances ... to determine the best course of action,” Smith said.

An audit would have likely derailed the state’s efforts to approve new revenue for the MTA by the agency’s March 25 board meeting, when members will vote on a worst-case 23 percent fare hike.

Photo from silive.com

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