Mayor Bill de Blasio came out wholeheartedly against congestion pricing in remarks to reporters on Monday, suggesting that his idea for a tax on high earners in the city was a better and more fair way to fund the MTA in its moment of need.
De Blasio made two arguments to reporters as to why he preferred his plan to congestion pricing, which has a new convert in Governor Andrew Cuomo. First, the mayor said the plan isn't fair to drivers outside of Manhattan. Speaking of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg's failed attempt to introduce congestion pricing in 2008, de Blasio told reporters that he "thought it was unfair to the outer boroughs, and did not address equity issues."
De Blasio said that he flat out had never been in favor of congestion pricing according to the Post, because he'd "never seen an example of it that I thought was fair."
There's also the political angle, according to de Blasio, who said that "everything I’ve ever seen of this Senate says this isn’t a possibility." Since there's such a stronghold of state Senate Republicans in Long Island, the mayor said he thinks "it’s just inconceivable this action would take place," unless Cuomo has a dramatically different plan than the old Bloomberg one.
In the place of congestion pricing, de Blasio has been pushing for a .5 percent increase in income tax on individuals who make over $500,000 and married couples who make more than $1 million per year. This added revenue would be allocated to upgrade the deteriorating subway system. How this plan would survive in the Republican-controlled state Senate has been left unsaid at this point, but the mayor has argued that the people hit by the tax won't miss "seven dollars per day" and put out a slick ad on Twitter featuring EXTREMELY dramatic violins in both a dark and triumphant fashion:
New York City's wealthiest can help fix a problem affecting nearly all of New York's working families. pic.twitter.com/vyyxAwyTRV
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) August 22, 2017
A spokesperson for de Blasio did not return a request for comment clarifying how the tax-averse Republican Party would allow a millionaire's tax to make it through the state Senate.
Cuomo recently endorsed congestion pricing, telling reporters that it was "an idea whose time has come," given the crumbling state of the MTA and the opportunity for a dedicated funding source for the agency. However, Cuomo hasn't revealed exactly what his plan will involve, and New York State of Politics reported that Cuomo has been "signaling to Assembly members that they can do a new pricing plan that does not include East River tolls."
Adding tolls to the East River bridges is a major part of the idea of congestion pricing, which Streetsblog points out would suddenly be full of holes if drivers could just learn to drive in during off-peak hours with lower tolls. New tolls on the East River bridges and entrances into Manhattan south of 60th Street would be $5.76 under the Move NY plan, while tolls on the Verrazano, Throgs Neck, Whitestone, Henry Hudson, Gil Hodges and Triboro Bridges would be reduced.