The body politic and blogosphere is focused on President Obama's 2nd prime time press conference, Tim Geithner's "plan" to resolve the banking crisis and the ongoing budget debate in Washington. Presently, my immediate concern with respect to the economy is local. This morning, the MTA board is planning to vote and ratify a budget with burdensome hikes and draconian service cuts for commuters to address a $1.2 billion deficit. That figure represents only what is known as it may well be even higher.
Former MTA Chairman, Richard Ravitch had earned broad based support with a plan to address the crisis fairly and spread the pain. Our "leadership" in Albany however has opted to punt. Senate Majority leader Malcolm Smith was especially feckless. Sadly, after initially supporting the Ravitch plan, Governor Paterson has opted to punt as well.
New York State's economy relies heavily on the infrastructure of New York City's transit system. If our leaders in Albany truly believe it makes sense to focus on the state's overall budget while abandoning New York City, they're in for a rude awakening.
Under the MTA's proposal, base fares would jump to $2.50, and monthly MetroCards would rise to $103. So that extra $20 the Obama administration has allocated in our payroll taxes is effectively consumed. Even worse, subway lines and bus routes will be eliminated in all five boroughs. Eight bus lines and one subway line will be eliminated in Queens alone.
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has garnered substantial headlines for his efforts to recover A.I.G.'s bonus money. If he somehow identified a pretext to use his authority to resolve the MTA budget crisis, I would eagerly sign up to help elect him governor.
During the subway strike in December 2005, my Brooklyn-Manhattan commute was on foot. Now that the weather is warming up, I'm tempted do that again!