NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A last ditch effort to stop congestion pricing from coming to New York as new details emerge about the wheeling and dealing going on in Albany to get the votes to pass it.
New Yorkers have two words for congestion pricing – no thanks.
According to a new poll, 54 percent of city voters surveyed oppose congestion pricing. Just 41 percent support the tax on drivers entering Midtown. New Jersey and Connecticut drivers and lawmakers have also stepped up to express their outrage as well.
The widespread opposition is something the watchdog group “Reclaim Initiative” intends to tap into with a campaign to demand that Albany lawmakers repeal the measure immediately.
“It does absolutely nothing to reduce congestion, that’s the worst part. It’s a lie. All it does is drive revenue into the MTA and the MTA is a black hole,” Reclaim Initiative’s Jadan Horyn charged.
Reclaim Initiative is critical of the fact that lawmakers acted without knowing what will happen. Passing it with no details, passing the buck on all critical decisions – including how much you’ll be charged to enter Manhattan’s business district below 60th street – to a political panel that won’t make its findings known until after its members run for re-election.
The repeal campaign includes radio ads targeting state senate Democrats, like Long Island Sen. Todd Kaminsky.
“Our legislators lied to us and sold us a bill of goods on congestion pricing this has nothing to do with congestion and everything to do with taking money from hard working New Yorkers,” the new ads claim.
Kaminsky told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer it’s way too early to reject congestion pricing and that he intends to stay on top of it.
“The panel may be greedy and piggish and not treat the public with the respect it’s due, but we’re going to keep pushing the panel to do the right thing,” the senator claimed.
Assemblyman David Weprin, who has opposed congestion pricing for a decade, said when it comes to repeal, “sign me up.”
The bill passed New York’s senate by a vote of 39-23; the assembly by a vote of 85-59.
Weprin said some of the “yes” votes were acquired by a time honored Albany trick. Congestion pricing was lumped into the so-called ‘big ugly” revenue bill that included money for programs like education aid and fighting opioid addiction. Simply put, more popular programs and necessary funding was held hostage until lawmakers agreed to pass Gov. Cuomo’s congestion pricing scheme.
“The process is horrible. It should have been taken up on the merits… it should have been deliberated, there should have been hearings… I think it’s outrageous, absolutely outrageous, and I think the public should be outraged,” Weprin said.
Assemblyman Weprin revealed to CBS2 that reluctant lawmakers were also made a number of promises to secure their votes – including $50 million for increased service in the so-called “transit deserts” in the outer boroughs, more buses, a 20-percent discount for Queens residents who use LIRR, and so on.