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New York Legislature seeking solutions to bail out MTA after congestion pricing pause, sources say

Plan to fund MTA hanging by a thread after congestion pricing delay
Plan to fund MTA hanging by a thread after congestion pricing delay 02:34

NEW YORK -- As New York's Legislative session enters its final hours, a plan to provide funds for the MTA to continue critical upgrade projects is hanging by a thread after Gov. Kathy Hochul indefinitely paused the congestion pricing program in New York City.

At this hour, there's no way to know if a desperate effort by the governor to find money for the MTA will succeed or fail.

Sources tell CBS New York political reporter Marcia Kramer the governor was offering to sign bills she had initially been opposed to in an attempt to get lawmakers to bail out the MTA.

What is the governor's plan to find funding for the MTA?

When Hochul made her congestion pricing announcement Wednesday, she said, "We have set aside funding to backstop the MTA capital plan and are currently exploring other funding sources."

But was it a promise or wishful thinking? Did the governor really have a plan to find money for the MTA's critical upgrade projects when she put congestion pricing on pause indefinitely?

With lawmakers set to get out of dodge Friday, lawmakers rejected the governor's proposal for a new payroll tax and were considering a plan dubbed the IOU Bill. It would have the state pledge to back $1 billion worth of MTA bonds without identifying where the money would come from. It's called a "dry appropriation" -- putting the full faith and credit of the state behind the bonds -- and it allow the MTA to sell bonds that would fund $15 billion of critical infrastructure projects.

A source tells Kramer, "It buys us time to continue resolving this mess the governor created."

But the governor is having trouble rounding up votes in the state Senate. 

Already Brooklyn State Sen. Andrew Gounardes has said he won't support it, issuing a statement saying in part: "I cannot in good conscience ratify a decision that will eliminate a significant dedicated revenue source for the MTA's capital plan while leaving the MTA's needs subject to the frenzy of the annual Albany budget trough."

"I think voting for an IOU or any other alternative revenue source like the governor is proposing is a vote to kill congestion pricing. I would vote against that," Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani said.

Mamdani says it's possible the session could end without a bailout for the MTA.

"There are a lot of legislators in both chambers who do not want to have their fingerprints on the governor's mistake," he said.

Sources tell Kramer that advocates are pushing Hochul to sweeten the bill by pledging to bring back congestion pricing after the November election, say by Dec. 31. It's unclear whether she will or whether the Legislature will go along.

Sources say MTA board members were "blindsided" by congestion pricing delay

Sources say the governor did not notify the MTA she would be delaying the program before she made her announcement Wednesday. One board member told CBS New York they felt "bewildered" and "blindsided."

Some board members say they're now worried about finding the $15 billion in funding needed to make necessary upgrades and fixes to the subway system.

The governor has promised to find money for the MTA to make up for the money congestion pricing was supposed to provide, saying, "We have set aside funding to backstop the MTA Capital Plan, and are currently exploring other funding sources."

One local lawmaker has suggested the governor move up the approval of licenses for three downstate casinos because the fees are earmarked for the MTA.

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