Monday, April 20, 2009

Taxing Our Patience

What could be less surprising? The WFP, now joined by the UFT, is looking to continue its tax raisinf binge by pressuring recalcitrant lawmakers to enact an MYA bailout plan that includes tolls. Of course, the UFT is one of the prime movers behind the WFP in the first place, so its public emergence isn't really earth shattering. Here's the NY Post's take: "The city's powerful teachers union threw its weight into the MTA bailout mess yesterday, with its boss vowing to lobby "everyone we have to" in order to spare straphangers devastating fare hikes and service cuts."

But the teacher's union is, of course, one of the prime movers behind the kind of bloated budgeting that makes tolls a "necessity" in the first place. If there was more rationality-and sanity-in how we spend the public's money; and that includes education, than there wouldn't be the dire neeed to hit commuters as hard as the Ravitch plan does. But Weingarten remains oblivious to her own culpability: "Weingarten said she called Ravitch and Working Families Party chief Dan Cantor yesterday and said the UFT will "form a coalition" that will put pressure on legislators to pass the MTA plan. "Nobody likes or wants to create tolls on the bridges," Weingarten said. "At the same time, we need to have a solution, even if it includes tolls on bridges, to keep the fare near the level it is right now. "We can't have subway and bus fares spike the way they will if the Ravitch plan isn't adopted or something like it."

Which leavea the Post in somewhat an awkward position-after it spent the last few weeks tar babbying the UFT. Here's the paper's Saturday editorial on the UFT and the MTA: "The United Federation of Teachers honcho -- only hours after this page urged her to throw labor's considerable weight behind an effort to save the MTA -- agreed to do just that." But the Post is kinda cross pressured here, and adds the following-sotto voce, if you will: "So we're glad labor groups heeded our call yesterday and stepped in to fill the void (though doubtless a big bill will be presented in due time)."

Yah think? Which is precisely why the intrepid Carl Kruger has been suffering all of the slings and arrows on this issue: "But a small number of Democratic senators opposed tolls, while others opposed the payroll tax, making it difficult for amended versions to gain traction. Ravitch offered an amended plan, which would exempt some drivers from bridge tolls and impose new fees on cab rides and a boost in Manhattan garage taxes."

Still, the Post should be more circumspect here. Empowering the UFT and the WFP on tolls, is like teasing a large cat at the zoo-eventually it will strike out at you in ways you may live to regret. So, while Paterson continues to get feisty on tolls-and the Republicans eagerly wait to pounce; the UFT/WFP folks may live to regret their over reach into the tax payers/motorists wallets.