Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
In response to a lawsuit filed by seven suburban county governments, a New York State judge ruled Wednesday that a payroll tax suburbanites pay for the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority is unconstitutional. Government leaders from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties are among those who sued to overturn the tax of 34 cents per hundred dollars of payroll for all employers, including freelancers.
The 2009 law was meant to bail out the MTA from a $2 billion a year short fall. The MTA said in a statement: “We will vigorously appeal today’s ruling. We believe this opinion will be overturned, since four prior challenges to the constitutionality of the law making the same argument have been dismissed.”
Government leaders from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties were among those who sued to overturn the "mobility tax."
The tax brings the transit authority more than a billion dollars a year. The tax applies to all 12 New York State counties served by the MTA.
In his ruling, State Supreme Court Justice R. Bruce Cozzins Jr. agreed with the plaintiffs' argument that the tax does not serve substantial state interest, and improperly supercedes the county governments.
Paul Steely White, the President of Transportation Alternatives, a transit advocacy group, said in a statement: "This decision threatens the foundation of the state’s economy. Public transportation is critical to the New York City metropolitan area—an area which provides 45 percent of the state’s tax revenue, paying for countless public services from Niagara Falls to Montauk. We hope Governor Cuomo resolves this case, and that the appeals court will consider the substantial state interest when reviewing this ruling.”