Smith Mum on Thorny State Finances

Queens State Senator Malcolm Smith may want to become the leader of the Senate, when Democrats take control of the body next month. But he didn't show much leadership today, as he dodged questions about major issues at a civic organization breakfast. WNYC's Arun Venugopal was there.

VENUGOPAL: This was Senator Smith's first speech before the Association for a Better New York, but for half an hour he [strenuously] avoided taking a stand on any aspect of the state's finances. He says tolls on the East River bridges are "A solution" for the MTA's problems, but isn't sure if they're necessarily the right one. When a reporter later asked him how he felt about taxing the rich, he took a pass.

SMITH: Everybody in the state of New York has an obligation to pay taxes. I think we as state representatives have an obligation to make sure that it is fair across the board and I think we're going to do that.

LIZ BENJAMIN: But is this fair?

SMITH: Well, we're still looking at it, to determine if it's fair. And I think that's the right question.

VENUGOPAL: And when asked how New York could get its fair share of infrastructure dollars under the Obama Administration, Smith simply insisted that it would. For WNYC, I'm Arun Venugopal.