Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver-- arguably the most powerful politician in New York State -- told NBCNewYork the MTA won't be cutting student bus passes and metro cards.
The Speaker's remarks tonight come hours before the MTA Board is expected to fill a $400 million dollar budget hole by slashing service.
"The MTA has a history of putting out a worst case scenario and then negotiating off the worst case scenario," Silver told NBCNewYork. "I assure you, this doomsday budget will not be enacted," he said.
The recommendations from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board's finance committee will be presented to the full MTA board when it meets on Wednesday to vote on the 2010 budget.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has pledged it won't raise fares next year, but has already said that service on the W and Z lines will have to go.
The massive service cuts will also mean fewer subways and buses late night and on weekends. And student discounts will be cut in half by September 2010 and completely terminated by 2011.
That proposed change prompted five rallies around the city today.
The budget also states that service reductions adopted in 2008 but never instated will be implemented, including the elimination of the Rockaway/Broad Channel residents' rebate program.
"We're grappling with the loss of nearly $400 million virtually overnight," said MTA Chairman Jay Walder. "I wish I could tell you that losing this amount of money in this amount of time does not have painful consequences. Unfortunately I can't."
Also proposed are "administrative savings" that cut 10 percent of payroll expense through furloughs, "pay lag" and other measures to be identified before April.
On Friday, a court ruled in support of an 11.5 percent pay increase over three years for the transit workers' union. The wage hikes will add about $300 million in labor costs through 2011, the MTA said. Their impact is already included in the MTA's 2010 budget considerations.
The MTA was surprised by a $383 million gap in its $11 billion budget over the past few weeks as a result of state funding cuts and lower than expected tax revenues