New York State Capitol Building by governortomwolf is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commonsz

On June 5, New York Governor Kathy Hochul scrapped an unpopular scheme to tax traffic below Manhattan’s 60th street in a last-minute reversal that stunned her supporters. Hochul seemingly came to realize what many had been warning all along: that “congestion pricing” was a de facto commuter tax and would hurt the local economy and New Yorkers.

Democrats have been unable and unwilling to force reform and better spending habits on the embattled transit agency—the MTA—which has now driven Hochul to seek a different option to get more money for the bloated and mis-managed agency.

To do this, the Governor is back with an equally terrible proposal to raise existing taxes, aiming to gin up a similar amount of money as the MTA expected from the congestion pricing scheme.

Adding to this mess, the Governor and Albany lawmakers may have to engineer new permanent funding streams, because the MTA intended to use the expected revenues from congestion tolls as leverage to borrow even more money.

The crux of the issue is the MTA. Seemingly unable to fix New York’s transit agency, lawmakers are now scrambling to merely keep it afloat in its current state, which is a shame because there are many ways in which New York’s transit system could be improved. Minor changes, such as improving how buses collect fares, don’t require massive spending sprees and can pay for themselves.

Further, New York State’s budget has ballooned out of control, even as the state population has dwindled. This year’s budget spends $237 billion overall, whereas the budget from the year before the pandemic, 2019, was $175 billion. That’s $62 billion in additional spending, more than the entire state budget of 40 states.

Americans for Tax Reform believes its fundamentally wrong-headed to increase the tax burden. Contrary to what tax-addicted New York Democrats will tell you, the current state of the MTA does not prove that taxes should be higher; rather, the MTA is proof positive that wanton government spending ends in disaster.