NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson delivered his first State of the City address Tuesday in Queens.
The speaker kicked off a campaign for mayoral control of the subways and possibly his own campaign to take up residence at Gracie Mansion, CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported.
“Is Corey Johnson completely insane?” Johnson asked the crowd at LaGuardia Community College. “Hopefully not.”
With those words, he embarked on a politically difficult mission to convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and a majority of the 213 members of the state Legislature that the time has come to have the mayor run the subways and for the city to have the power of the purse to raise and set taxes for mass transit.
Full Video: Council Speaker Corey Johnson Delivers State of the City Address
Johnson called all previous attempts to fix mass transit “Band-Aid solutions to mortal wounds.”
“We must take control of our destiny,” he added.
The speaker brandished a 104-page report that included detailed plans to raise money.
Congestion pricing? Certainly.
“Today, I am here to say that if Albany doesn’t pass congestion pricing this session, the City Council will,” he said.
He also listed lots of other revenue proposals:
- The millionaires tax
- Raising the city sales tax from 8.75 percent to 9.25 percent
- Doubling parking meter rates
- Raising corporate and business taxes
- Forcing hospitals and private colleges to pay property taxes
The proposal received a cool response from team Cuomo, with Communications Director Dani Lever pointing out “the city already owns the New York City transit system.”
Albany insiders were also concerned Johnson’s move will distract from the campaign to get the Legislature to pass congestion pricing.
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Former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, who proposed mayoral control when he ran against de Blasio for mayor in 2013, said it sounded to him like Johnson wants to live in Gracie Mansion.
“I think you’ve seen campaign issue No. 1 in the next mayor race,” he said.
Former State Sen. Tom Duane called the plan a “very heavy lift” but added “Corey, as I say, should never be underestimated.”
Kramer asked MTA board member David Jones how difficult it would be to convince members of the Legislature to go along.
“I think he’s going to have to go one-by-one and talk it through,” he replied. “This is grinding it out, there’s no simple way to get this done.”
The mayor’s press secretary said a city takeover of the subways is “a worthy discussion: that would “take years to achieve.” He said his boss is focused on an immediate fix – getting the Legislature to pass congestion pricing before the looming budget deadline less than four weeks away.