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.
With all the news of the newNYC MTA fare hike proposals, it's hard to remember last year's effort to bail out the MTA. Richard Ravitch (now the Lt. Governor) had been commissioned by New York Governor David Paterson to develop a plan to bail out the MTA. That proposal included two main sections -- a 0.34 percent tax on employers in the suburban counties surrounding New York, or about $200 per employee making $60,000 a year, and bridge tolls on some East River bridges. For reasons understood fully only by Robert Moses, some New York City bridges across that river are free, others, owned by the MTA, are tolled.
The bridge toll proposal went nowhere. But the tax was passed, and New Yorkers who make even the tiniest amount of freelance income get an unpleasant quarterly reminder from the New York tax department that their MTA mobility tax is due. Not that most New Yorker' love the MTA as it is.
Now a Westchester County newspaper, The Times Herald-Record has asked two of the candidates for governor what they think of that tax (Hat tip: Tri-State Transportation Campaign's Mobilizing the Region blog). Republican Rick Lazio, a former Congressman says, flatly, he's against the tax. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat says:
"The MTA payroll tax is something we must revisit by coming up with a more equitable system. We cannot place unfair burdens on counties with families and businesses struggling.”
Transit taxes have been promoted by Republicans, like former Mayor Pat McGrory of Charlotte, and Democrats, like Mayor John Hickenlooper of Denver, and have won popular support when put to the vote.
Since there's not too much in his book about transit, we're waiting for more Cuomo ideas on transit funding.