February 26th, 2009
Last night during a meeting to address the MTA’s fiscal crisis, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver proposed initiating a $2 toll hike on the East River bridges. The toll would equal the cost of a subway ride. Under the MTA bailout plan proposed by Richard Ravitch the tolls would be around $4.15–about equal to other MTA crossings.
The Ravitch plan is designed to close a projected $3.4 billion budget deficit by adding a payroll tax, imposing new tolls and increasing fares. If the Legislature does not take action, the MTA is expected to drastically increase fares among other measures.
Silver said after the meeting that he was offering another plan so that legislators wouldn’t feel there is “only one game in town.”
While the proposal received some support from assembly persons from the five boroughs, it still faces significant opposition from legislators whose constituents commute over the East River crossings and would pay the proposed tolls.
“This idea is certainly better than the Ravitch plan, but I remain very apprehensive about any tolls on the East River crossings,” Assemblyman Michael Gianaris from Queens told the Daily News.
Although fares are expected to increase everywhere, opponents of the tolls say their constituents are being unfairly burdened. Some legislators feel allowing the toll would only lead to increased bridge tolls in years to come.
Silver also called for taxes on business payrolls—a measure proposed under the Ravitch plan. Opposition to that idea has been steadily growing for months now.
State Sen. John Bonacic from Mount Hope has stood firmly against the payroll tax, insisting that it will hurt businesses and unfairly tax his community.Bonnacic believes MTA service in his district is not up to snuff.
“The Secaucus station is very nice, and the promise of a one-seat ride years down the road is a positive, but Orange County residents are already shortchanged when it comes to representation on the MTA, and certainly when it comes to service,” he was quoted as saying in the Daily Freeman.By David King on February 26, 2009, 3:34 pm
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