The Senate Democrats' tentative agreement on a plan to bailout the MTA is a small bit of relief because it proves that Albany can sometimes get things done after weeks of kicking and screaming. Sure, the Dems' plan isn't great (no bridge tolls on East or Harlem River bridges), and it's unclear whether capital projects will be funded, but at least the fare hike would only be 8%—and not 23-25%—and there would be few or no service cuts. A single ride would cost $2.25 (up from $2) while a monthly card would cost $88 (not $81).

In order for the State Senate to pass the plan, Majority Leader Malcolm Smith needs all 32 Democratic Senators to approve it, since Republican Senators hate it. Two Long Island Senators, Craig Johnson and Brian Foley, agreed to support it, but only if Governor Paterson does reimburse school districts for the payroll tax included in the plan (twelve counties' businesses will be hit; those closest to NYC will pay 34 cents per $100, but "businesses in Orange, Putnam and Dutchess counties would pay only 25 cents" according to WCBS 2). More details about the plan—which includes the MTA needed to undergo a "forensic audit"— after the jump. Smith is hoping they can pass the plan this week.

The Daily News reports that, per Smith, 25% of the $1.76 billion goes towards capital projects, but the Times points out that Paterson "said that he would support the Senate version of the rescue plan even though he did not expect it to contain money for the capital program. It was not clear why the governor and the Senate had different interpretations of how the plan would affect capital spending." Which leads the Post's and Daily News' editorials to rip the Governor. However, a few hours ago, Paterson signaled they were working on a way to find money for capital projects.

Components of the Senate Dems' tentative plan from WCBS 2:

* No tolls on the East and Harlem river bridges

* An 8-percent fair hike, individual tickets going from $2 to $2.25 instead of $2.50, monthly passes going from $81 to $88 instead of $103

* A payroll tax of 34 cents per $100, but businesses in Orange, Putnam and Dutchess counties would pay only 25 cents.

* A 50-cent taxi surcharge only on yellow cabs

* A $25 motor vehicle registration surcharge

* A driver license surcharge of 25-to-30 percent

* A 5-percent increase in the auto rental tax

In the interest of increased transparency, the MTA will also be forced to make public the perks it gives to its executives.