NY Lawmakers Seek New Funding for MTA After Congestion Pricing Plan Halted

NY lawmakers rush to find new funding for MTA after Governor Hochul halts congestion pricing plan. Learn about the efforts to fill the $1 billion yearly gap.

Jun 8, 2024 - 00:53
Jun 8, 2024 - 00:53
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NY Lawmakers Seek New Funding for MTA After Congestion Pricing Plan Halted
NY Lawmakers Seek New Funding for MTA After Congestion Pricing Plan Halted

New York lawmakers are in a rush to find a new source of money to fill a $1 billion yearly gap after Governor Kathy Hochul suddenly stopped a congestion pricing plan. This plan was supposed to pay for important transit improvements.

Funding Problems

On Thursday, lawmakers dropped a plan to raise taxes on New York City businesses through the payroll mobility tax, according to insiders. Now, Democrats are working on a new plan to find other sources of money to make sure the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) can get bonds to fund its projects.

“It’s a plan that promises a billion dollars for the MTA in next year’s budget, but without explaining where it will come from,” said Michael Gianaris, state senate deputy majority leader, on Thursday.

Political Worries

Democrats don’t have enough votes yet to pass the new funding plan, insiders say. The idea to raise taxes on businesses was scrapped because of concerns about its impact during an election year. This worry also influenced Hochul’s decision to pause the congestion pricing plan.

Extended Session

The legislative session was supposed to end on Thursday but will now continue into the weekend. This shows the rushed and unplanned nature of Hochul’s decision, which left the MTA without funding just weeks before the plan was set to start. The congestion pricing plan would have charged most drivers $15 to enter Manhattan’s business district, aiming to reduce traffic, improve air quality, and fund crucial transit projects.

Governor’s Decision

Hochul said she made the decision to help New Yorkers dealing with rising costs and after talking to commuters who were worried about the extra $15 fee. The MTA, which runs the city’s subways, buses, and commuter trains, planned to use the $1 billion from the congestion pricing to get $15 billion for upgrading subway signals and tracks, improving accessibility, and extending the Second Avenue subway into Harlem.

“We need to make sure the MTA’s capital plan moves forward,” said Assemblyman David Weprin, a Democrat from Queens. “We’ll work hard to find the $1 billion over the next few days. I believe we’ll succeed.”

Future Plans

At a press conference on Friday evening, Hochul promised to find other ways to fund the MTA’s capital plan during this pause but didn’t provide specific details. She also defended her decision to stop the plan without the MTA board’s approval, which has sparked a debate about the governor’s powers.

“My job is to make sure life in our state isn’t made harder or more expensive for New Yorkers,” Hochul said.

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