Cymbrowitz: Revisit Congestion Pricing, Commuter Tax!

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz is urging Governor Paterson and the state legislature to rekindle discussions about congestion pricing or the commuter tax in an effort to stave off increases to the MTA mobility tax.

The governor’s proposal includes a 60 percent increase in the mobility tax levied on area businesses.  The tax was first enacted last year and is now being expanded to fuel revenues and close the MTA’s massive budget shortfall.

Cymbrowitz says the tax unfairly penalizes employers in the five boroughs, which will be asked to pay .54 percent per $100 of payroll, while suburban businesses get away with paying only .17 percent per $100 of payroll. Currently, inner-city businesses pay .34 percent.

“Pitting New York City’s businesses against suburban firms might make political sense for the governor, but is likely to become an economic calamity. The commuters from Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and the other nine counties that fall under the MTA mobility tax use our mass transit system just as my constituents and other New York City residents do. So, why should businesses in the suburbs have less of a responsibility to the MTA than those in the City?” Cymbrowitz wrote in a press release.

The assemblyman is asking his Albany colleagues to begin debating alternatives – including the commuter tax and congestion pricing – immediately.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz Calls Proposed MTA Tax Hike An Attack on NYC Businesses
Brooklyn Legislator Says It’s Time to Revisit the Commuter Tax and Congestion Pricing
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) criticized Governor Paterson’s proposal to rescue our mass transit system by increasing the MTA mobility tax 60 percent for New York City businesses, while cutting the tax for suburban areas in half.  The MTA mobility tax was enacted less than a year ago.  Cymbrowitz also stated that either reintroducing the commuter tax or establishing congestion pricing might be necessary.
“This is an overt attack on New York City businesses and it’s wrong and dangerous. Our city provides most of the jobs in this region.  Penalizing businesses in the five boroughs is not only discriminatory, but places an unfair burden on these firms at a time when unemployment is over ten percent,” Cymbrowitz stated.  “Most jobs are with small businesses which is why we can’t afford to take the risk.  The Governor’s proposal threatens the very businesses that fuel our City’s economy.”
“I’ve spoken with small business owners in my district and while many are feeling the stresses of this bad economy, they understood that they needed to do their part to help keep our city’s mass transportation system running.  Asking them to shoulder an even larger portion of the MTA mobility tax is not only unfair but could threaten the viability of some businesses,” Cymbrowitz explained.
“The MTA’s budget shortfall must be addressed, but cutting service, eliminating student  passes or raising the fare are not the answers.  Viable additional revenue sources must be identified and two such sources are the reinstatement of the commuter tax and the implementation of congestion pricing.  Both are hot topic issues and this is why we must immediately begin to debate these and other alternatives rationally and constructively,” Cymbrowitz said.
“We need to let the Governor know that he cannot put our city’s businesses in jeopardy.  We need our trains and buses, but we also need our businesses.  Thriving businesses not only provide the goods and services we require, but they are often the anchors of our communities,” Cymbrowitz continued.
“Pitting New York City’s businesses against suburban firms might make political sense for the Governor, but is likely to become an economic calamity.  The commuters from Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and the other nine counties that fall under the MTA mobility tax use our mass transit system just as my constituents and other New York City residents do. So, why should businesses in the suburbs have less of a responsibility to the MTA than those in the City?” Cymbrowitz asked.
“While it is important that we properly fund our region’s mass transit system, we must do so in a manner that does the least harm to our local businesses without raising fares for commuters.  Having an extensive and efficient mass transit system is beneficial to both the public and business, but before we blindly infuse the MTA with money, it is important to be certain that those funds will be properly used. However we ultimately deal with the MTA’s current deficit, increasing the mobility tax solely for New York City businesses is definitely not the way to go,” Cymbrowitz explained.
Currently, the MTA mobility tax is .34% per $100 of payroll.  The Governor’s proposal calls for the tax on New York City’s businesses to increase to .54% per $100 of payroll, while suburban businesses would be paying only .17% per $100 of payroll.
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