Weeks after Governor Cuomo and his appointed MTA chairman called on the city to contribute additional money to the MTA, the New York Times reports that Mayor de Blasio will propose a tax on the wealthy in order to fund subway fixes and subsidize MetroCards for low-income riders.

The tax proposal, expected to be announced Monday, would bring in approximately $800 million annually through a .5 percent increase in income tax on individuals who make over $500,000 and married couples who make more than $1 million. The bulk of that money will go toward subway and bus repairs, with around $250 million dedicated to the Fair Fares program, which provides half-priced MetroCards to New Yorkers living in poverty.

"Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra to help move our transit system into the 21st century," the mayor said in a statement on Sunday.

Passing the proposal will require approval from Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers, and could be an especially tough sell in the Republican-controlled state senate. But the effort is already in motion, according to State Senator Michael Gianaris, whose "millionaire tax" plan was the inspiration for the mayor's proposal. "This is a welcome change for leaders to begin to identify the need for dedicated revenue for the suffering system," Gianaris, who represents Queens, told Gothamist. "It's the solution that makes the most sense for a system in crisis."

Both Gianaris' senate bill and legislation expected to be introduced in the state assembly would include provisions about how the MTA can spend the additional revenue. "Because there's been questions over diversion of resources," Gianaris noted, language in the bills will specify that the money only go toward subway and bus upgrades. Additionally, the proposal will note that the additional funds do not impact the $1 billion promised by Cuomo to the MTA next year.

Some city councilmembers and transit advocates also praised city hall's new support for Fair Fares, which came as a surprise to many after the mayor's repeated refusals to fund the program in this year's fiscal budget. Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who championed the plan during budget negotiations, commended the announcement, and noted that the mayor's change of heart was a testament to grassroots organizing on the part of activists like the Riders Alliance and the Community Service Society.

Likewise, Cuomo-appointed MTA Chairman Joe Lhota also praised de Blasio's u-turn on city funding, noting that, "After saying the MTA doesn't need money, we're glad the Mayor reversed himself." But Lhota also repeated his calls for the city to immediately fund half of the MTA's $800 million rescue plan. "Emergency train repairs can't wait on what the state legislature may or may not do next year," the chairman said in a statement.

The obvious solution, according to Gianaris, is for Cuomo to call a special legislative session, as he did earlier this summer, so that lawmakers can vote on the tax proposal immediately. "There is no crisis that is affecting more New Yorkers than the MTA crisis, and there's no question that this justifies a return to Albany to act," the state senator said.

The governor's office did not respond to questions about Cuomo's support for the tax proposal and whether he's considering convening a special session.

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