Carroll On The Prospects Of His Package Surcharge Bill To Save MTA

Carroll On The Prospects Of His Package Surcharge Bill To Save MTA
Amazon Prime delivery in Brooklyn. Liena Zagare/Bklyner

Assemblymember Robert Carroll, who represents Brooklyn’s District 44, has recently made news after reviving his bill to place a $3.00 surcharge on online packages.

The legislation was first introduced in 2019 by Carroll, who stressed to us that it was “not a COVID-related bill.” It originally aimed to combat congestion and big-box companies like Amazon.

It was met with criticism from Carroll’s Democratic colleagues, including prominent Bronx-born Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who criticized the bill on Twitter.

“Maybe instead of taxing people who need baby formula and essential goods, we tax those who have profited billions from a global pandemic?” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

“The bill clearly exempts all types of food and groceries, medicine, essential items like diapers. EBT, SNAP benefits, all exempt. We’ve talked with lots of disability groups and lots of small businesses about how to make sure that they are exempted as well,” Carroll said.

In a recent Crain’s article, several small Brooklyn businesses voiced concerns about the bill targeting their newly minted online efforts.

“There is no language in the bill that would preclude small-business sales. It would be difficult to create such a provision, because Amazon, Etsy and eBay all host individual sellers,” the Crain’s reported.

In an op-ed published December 7th in the New York Daily News, written by John Samuelson, the international president of the Transit Workers Union and Assemblymember Carroll, the bill was defined mainly as an attempt to bail out the MTA.

Tim Minton, and MTA Spokesperson, said that the agency has “been clear only $12 billion in federal relief can prevent drastic service cuts, layoffs and gutting our historic capital plan that would devastate our colleagues and customers. While the MTA welcomes creative solutions and any new revenue, the proposal is subject to the state legislative process and cannot itself solve the problem, which is why we urge continued advocacy in Washington.”

“We choose to fight, and we ask you to join us. We must continue to demand action on the federal level — but we also must demand action on the state level,” Carroll and Samuelson wrote, referring to the continuous battle the transit system is facing with the federal government.

All of this discussion may be moot, however, Carroll told us.

“This is about looking at the e-commerce giant Amazon, and how to make people more conscientious. I don’t want to get into a tit-for-tat war with folks. This isn’t actually going to pass, nor is it the most important thing on my agenda.”

“I don’t think, nor do I plan, to try to move [the bill] out of committee,” Carroll stated, adding that “it’s not going to pass, because that’s just not how the state legislature works. I really do think that it’s just not going to happen.”