Wednesday, April 22, 2009

MTA: More Taxes Ahead

The NY Post doesn't like the new senate Democrat MTA bailout plan: "In truth, there's good reason to doubt that Smith's plan could put the MTA on track to long-term fiscal health -- or that it will even pass his own chamber. Clearly, Smith doesn't have even the Senate on board -- which isn't surprising, given that his plan contains something in it for everyone to hate."

But the problem is that the MTA is an absolute mess-and has been so for years but the reality has been taped over by huge real estate fees. As Nicole Gelinas points out: "By now, everybody knows about the state-run MTA's problems. The bubble-era real-estate taxes that have supported the authority in recent years have burst. The MTA is stuck with piles of debt and unsustainable union labor costs that the politicians larded on for years, with no way to pay for it all."

A total cesspool of mismanagement and political patronage-one that the state's leaders manged to separate from the budget negotiations that were just recently concluded. But why? If the state was going to grab stimulus cash and increase taxes and fees, then why wasn't a good chunk of that money directed at mass transit? Instead, we got an increase in overall state spending and a separate negotiation over the transit bailout that will mean additional taxes and fees. Only in New York.

This isn't a question about the irresponsibility of one branch of government, it is the failure of all branches to address the level of spending and the size of state government-and the total irresponsibility of raising taxes in the midst of am economic recession without looking to scale down the Leviathan. In this context, the MTA bailout hue and cry is sheer subtext.