So much for the State Legislature moving forward on a plan to introduce $2 tolls on currently free East River and Harlem River bridges—opposition from State Senators (from even within his own Democratic party as well as other Democratic state and city officials) has forced State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith's hand into delaying any sort of decision by demanding an audit of the MTA's finances. Wait, there was no audit of the MTA's finances before a deal would be made?
The Post explains that Smith "[faced] a rebellion from outer-borough Democrats and rock-solid opposition from Republicans," so he asked for the audit "before he would agree to any plan to plug its projected $1.2 billion budget gap with new tolls and a regional payroll tax." And the Daily News points out Smith referred to the MTA's bad accounting past, saying the agency "does not have a history of being forthright in terms of their budget. You know, they kept two books at a time." Burn!
Still, there's worry about what will happen to the financially embattled MTA. The Straphangers' Campaign's Gene Russianoff was disappointed by Smith's change of mind: "It contradicts where he was last week when he talked about taking decisive action. Maybe the MTA can do more in terms of saving and restructuring finances, but they're in a dire need and riders are looking at a fare hike. I don't think that's debatable."