BROOKLYN - (AP) - Drivers would pay to cross the East River and Brooklyn-area companies would be taxed on their payrolls undera new plan to staunch financial bleeding at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

But transit riders would be spared a potential 23 percent fare increase. A state commission's proposal, released Thursday, calls for boosting MTA fare revenue by 8 percent instead.

The MTA needs to close an estimated $1.4 billion deficit in its operating budget next year and a $3 billion deficit by 2012. The agency is legally required to balance its budget.

Under the state commission's plan, companies in a 12-county area would pay $330 in tax for every $100,000 they pay workers.

To watch Gov. Paterson's news conference about the MTA budget gap, go to channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.