New York State entities continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel to scare up a few dollars. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will issue $475 million in short-term notes this week. The MTA pledges to repay the debt as soon as it gets some more revenue from the new downstate payroll tax on employers that the state collects on its behalf. The cash scramble likely will cost the MTA several million dollars in underwriting costs.

Meanwhile, MTA chief Jay Walder’s budget-balancing plans are beginning to look just as flimsy as New York State’s plans for its own budget. A few months ago, Walder proposed that the MTA start charging public-school students half-fares this year and full fares next year to raise $214 million, But after a meeting with the kids yesterday, he said he’d hold off on a vote on the issue.

It doesn’t much matter, anyway. Practically speaking, the MTA isn’t going to get much money from students one way or the other. Aggressive fare-beating action against back-packing toting kids this fall would be a nightmare for police-community relations and for Mayor Bloomberg and would consume valuable police resources.

These are all just diversions meant to keep the people who create and monitor New York’s budgets in a state of suspended disbelief.

State entities can still raise money for their fantasies, though, in part because investors expect taxes to go up, spurring their demand for tax-exempt debt.

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