While Assembly members, advocates, and MTA officials were discussing a nuanced response to the state's transportation funding crisis, State Senator David Carlucci unveiled his latest proposal today in Rockland County: A tax cut for drivers who pay tolls. Carlucci, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, hopes to enact his $250 state income tax credit — part of the IDC's "Affordable New York" agenda – through legislative budget negotiations. The tax credit wouldn't actually save New Yorkers money — it would probably just shift costs from drivers to general taxpayers. Carlucci's office said it wasn't sure how much the plan would end up costing or how it would be paid for. Back in the Assembly, committee members wrestled with the MTA's capital funding needs. "We've cut more than $800 million of annually recurring costs over the past several years," MTA chief financial officer Bob Foran told the panel, but he warned that without concessions from labor unions, rising pension and healthcare costs threatened to swamp what savings the authority had achieved. "If it sounds like I'm trying to raise an alarm, I guess I really am," he said. The capital program has higher costs ahead, as well: In response to increased pressure after last month's deadly Metro-North derailment, the MTA is planning an additional $400 million expenditure on Positive Train Control in its next capital plan, and post-Sandy repair and resiliency initiatives, though covered primarily through the federal government, will also require additional state funds.
With Dems like these, who needs Republicans?