Lawmakers pass $2.26 billion MTA bailout plan

ALBANY - Lawmakers in Albany passed a bailout plan for the MTA late Wednesday.

Under the $2.26 billion plan, the MTA's proposed fare increases of up to 30 percent will be eliminated. Instead, fares will still go up between 8 percent and 10 percent. Monthly passes will go from $81 to $89 - a dollar more than previous proposals.

The bill passed with a controversial employer payroll tax, which some Long Island lawmakers originally opposed. They backed the plan because school districts will now be reimbursed.

Despite the immediate 10 percent fare increase, the MTA says it will also need to boost fares an additional 7.5 percent in both 2011 and 2013. The plan also calls for an increase in the price to register a car and a 50-cent charge for taking a cab.

The deal also calls for legislators to audit the MTA's books, but details on that aspect are unclear. Several state agencies already have oversight over the MTA, and the authority hires its own outside auditor to review its books. However, lawmakers say they want to examine how the MTA is spending taxpayers' money and whether it can be done more efficiently.

"I'd like to see an audit explain what can be consolidated, what don't we need, what are they doing now that they were doing for 40 years that we don't have to do anymore," state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Oyster Bay) says. "There [are] a whole lot of things that can be done."

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