State Senator Ken Lavalle (R-Port Jefferson) will hold a press conference today at 10:30 am in front of Digger O’Dell’s restaurant, 59 West Main Street in Riverhead, to call for the repeal of the MTA payroll tax and protest the proposed LIRR service cuts to Eastern Long Island.

“The  MTA  payroll tax is unfair on its face and should be repealed,”  LaValle said in a press release. “This is a job-killing tax that hurts businesses in suburban  areas  of  the  state.  Eastern Long Island, in particular, is offered  minimal  rail service.  Now, in addition to forcing our businesses and  residents  to pay an unwarranted payroll tax, the MTA wants to cut the little service we have.”

The MTA payroll tax was established last spring over the objections of LaValle, as well as both East End assembly members, Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham), to rescue the state authority from insolvency and avoid massive fare hikes on trains, buses and subways. The MTA’s financial troubles worsened over the rest of 2009, however, and last month the MTA announced planned service cuts that include the elimination of all but summer weekend train service on the LIRR main line east of Ronkonkoma, also known as the Greenport branch. The announcement drew protests from local officials in Riverhead and throughout the region.

LaValle and Thiele have introduced legislation that would eliminate the tax for  the Town of Brookhaven and Peconic Bay region, LaValle’s press release said. The legislators have also introduced bills in both chambers of the State Legislature that would allow the public to consider the creation of the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority to replace the MTA.

A public hearing on the proposed MTA service reductions will be held in Riverhead at the County Center on Monday, March 8, beginning at 6 pm.

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