Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have spent years arguing over who is responsible for the MTA and its many failures. Now they’ve both decided to give up their fight and pass the financial burden to New Yorkers. The Governor and the Mayor have now released a joint 10-point plan to fund the MTA. In short, New Yorkers are now responsible for the failing transit system’s mismanagement and bloated personnel costs.
The proposal includes a congestion pricing initiative that would charge vehicles driving into Manhattan below 61st Street. In addition, there will be a fee on for-hire vehicles in congestion zones. This program could start as early as next year.
The plan also includes new revenue streams from two taxes the Governor hopes to pass in the upcoming budget – one on marijuana sales and the other on sales from internet marketplaces. There are currently no details on how much revenue from these taxes will be dedicated to the MTA.
The plan also skimps out on a call for MTA officials to develop a restructuring plan. In addition, the proposal will create a “capital lockbox” to hold any funds generated by the initiative. But the plan does not describe how officials will guarantee that these funds are not dipped into for superfluous projects.
The Cuomo and de Blasio plan will rely on approval from the Legislature. The Assembly has remained divided on congestion pricing since the idea was first announced by the Governor. These divisions could continue to grow after adding marijuana and internet sales tax revenue to the proposal.
Even Mayor de Blasio had been hesitant to back congestion pricing. He had originally proposed a “millionaire’s tax” as an additional funding stream, but he has since abandoned that idea because there isn’t enough support in the Legislature.
No matter where the money comes from, New Yorkers can be sure it will not represent change. Giving the MTA more money without any larger reform or change in priorities is likely to guarantee we see the same problems popping up over and over again. Without reform, congestion pricing and additional taxes represent more expenses for New Yorkers with no guarantee that the transit system will improve.
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