New York City Mayor “Big Tax” Bill de Blasio (D) ruffled feathers recently after proposing a targeted tax hike on the city’s high income earning residents in order to fix their struggling subway system.
The Mayor’s plan, known as the “Fair Fix” plan, would also use the tax revenue to subsidize half-price bus and subway rides for 800,000 of the city’s qualifying residents. De Blasio’s misguided plan is even opposed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo who controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The MTA is the largest public transit authority in the U.S. serving downstate New York and Southwestern Connecticut.
Both Governor Cuomo and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota agree that the city should provide half of the $836 million needed. With support from Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Governor Cuomo and the MTA have proposed a separate solution called “congestion pricing” which involves charging drivers to enter the busier parts of the city during peak hours.
MTA board member Veronica Vanterpool, appointed by de Blasio as executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, wrote an op-ed in the NY Daily News urging the mayor to adopt congestion pricing. However, in the days after the op-ed was released, she mysteriously switched her position and came out in support of de Blasio’s plan to hike taxes on New York residents.
The grassroots campaign “Move NY” has been building support for the congestion pricing proposal that would put in place a $2.75 toll – the same price as a subway swipe – for the four bridges entering Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Additionally, the “user fee” structure of the plan would reduce prices up to 48% for the seven bridges currently with an MTA toll.
“Move NY” projects their plan would bring in $1.47 billion annually for both city and state infrastructure needs without raising taxes. This more fiscally minded solution would seem a better alternative to hiking taxes, especially considering the transit authority is already $33 billion in debt. Remember, this is coming from a city that currently can’t account for $84 million lost within their Education Department and $356 million in Medicaid payments.
Republican Mayoral Candidate, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, suggests NYC should help state-run subways by diverting rainy-day money the de Blasio administration has stocked away. “The money is there – You have surpluses. We don’t need to cut anything.” she said. Nicole Gelinas, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, says the city possesses over $2 billion in reserves. De Blasio, who has increased spending every year in office, claims that these funds are to brace for federal funding cuts threated by the Trump Administration.
These proposed tax hikes will hopefully be combatted by the Republican-controlled New York Senate. Chairman Lhota assures there will be a public update made to the MTA board soon. However, he and other officials and lawmakers recognize the obstacles posed by the Mayor’s “tax-and-spend” agenda.