Deputy Comptroller Kenneth Bleiwas told a Senate committee today that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority needs to reform its finances as it faces a $250 million budget gap in 2012.

In testimony before the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee, said the ever-increasing fare hikes, including the MTA’s plans to increases fares by 7.5 percent starting in January 2013 won’t cover future deficits.

From his testimony:

These increases are occurring at a time when taxpayers can least afford it. Even if the MTA achieves all of its stated objectives, it still forecasts a budget gap of nearly $500 million in 2014.

Bleiwas also decried the latest round of state budget cuts, and warned the MTA could be in trouble if federal dollars are curtailed. However, he also said Chairman Jay Walder has started the process of streamlining the notoriously onerous MTA bureaucracy.

“Balancing the operating budget will not be easy, but the focus must be on reducing costs by improving efficiencies and eliminating waste,” Bleiwas said.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are mulling plans to repeal the much-despised commuter tax imposed on suburban counties that receive commuter rail service from the MTA.

The tax was a hot topic during the 2010 elections. A repeal of the tax, which targets payrolls, could help retain GOP gains in Long Island and Hudson Valley Senate districts.