Apr
19

Suburban representatives decry commuter tax

By

After Manhattan Borough President and 2013 mayoral hopeful issued his call for a commuter tax as part of a comprehensive overhaul of MTA financing earlier this week, suburban interests from around the region were, predictable, unimpressed. As various New Jersey newspapers are reporting, nearly everyone in the Garden State opposes the measure, and the state legislature wants to condemn Stringer’s speech. They’d rather take advantage of our city’s services but not pay for them as well.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, Gov. Chris Christie was quick to lend his voice to the issue. He called the plan “penny-wise and pound foolish” and claimed boosting the transit system that powers the city would harm the region’s economy.

For his part, Stringer fired back with a statement. “Job killing?” he said. “When Gov. Christie de-railed the ARC tunnel, he cost the region more than 150,000 jobs and $9 billion in economic activity. That’s how you kill jobs, governor. Gov. Christie should do his homework and get his facts right about the commuter tax. The greatest expansion of jobs in the nation’s history occurred in the 1990s – when New Jerseyans who worked in NYC rightfully paid their fair share through a small commuter tax.”

Meanwhile, as other mayoral hopefuls stay silent on the issue, the Senate Republicans and some State Democrats also spoke out against Stringer’s plan. Sen. David Carlucci from Rockland and Orange Counties called it “an onerous tax that would negatively affect working families, many of whom commute to and from New York City every day.” No one is willing to show much foresight or understanding of the nuances here even though Stringer as mayor would little control over how the MTA is financed.



Categories : Asides, MTA Politics

23 Responses to “Suburban representatives decry commuter tax”

  1. Kareem says:

    I might be in the minority here. I think a commuter tax is a good idea. It’s something that needs to be enacted in large cities everywhere (St. Louis, LA, Chicago, Seattle, etc).

    For many years suburban flight has endangered transit systems abilities to both serve the urban core and suburban fringe, all while suburbanites utilize infrastructure they don’t pay for.

    This is one of those times when I wish I was a permanent resident of New York. We simply don’t have leaders like this in St. Louis. Stringer’s plan is a good one, and it’s time we stop running away from the idea of taxes.

    • SEAN says:

      Totally agree with you. Job flight do to the commuter tax was a myth. Companies left cities for cheeper rent in the burbs, but now the trend has reversed do to the realisation that being car dependent & working in a suburban office park isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

      A little factoid on Saint Louis
      Despite the fact that St. Louis being the largest city in the county that derives it’s name, the seat of government is actually in suburban Clayton. That’s like having Burbank being the seat of Los Angeles County.

      • Kareem says:

        Oh, the stories I can tell you about how screwed up local government is here…

      • Tower18 says:

        That’s not exactly true about St. Louis. St. Louis “city” is an independent entity, surrounded by, but not part of, St. Louis County. Ironically, St. Louis City separated from St. Louis County over issues of taxation, due in part to the wildly disparate size of the two (City was ~10x larger than County). Within 100 years, that had reversed, and St. Louis City has been hamstrung ever since by not having access to the tax revenues of the much-wealthier St. Louis County.

  2. BBnet3000 says:

    “Working families” must be one of the top buzzwords nowadays in whats left of our public discourse.

    • Bolwerk says:

      It’s more than a buzzword. It’s more like a euphemism for people who shouldn’t be disrupted or inconvenienced, even as they disrupt and inconvenience everyone else. Those entitled to dignity – those who already have decent-ish jobs and benefits, especially in the service of the state – are the new petty bourgeois, transplanted to a gentry life in the ‘burbs. The lumpen who can’t get those things are with increasing frequency being deliberately excluded from political decisionmaking.

  3. Jeff says:

    The critique of having a commuter tax used to be that it increases the chances of suburban flight for companies HQ’d in the city.

    But with suburban flight increasingly becoming a thing of the past, with both people and companies trying desperately to move back to the city, that critique may no longer hold true. So it might indeed be time to bring back that tax.

    • Justin Samuels says:

      Defacto you do have a commuter tax. While the official commuters tax was abolished, the one must pay in order to drive into the city went up. The fares one must pay in order to get into the city have also gone up…….

    • Kareem says:

      That’s always struck me a spurious argument. Commuter Tax=Suburban Flight of business. Has anyone seen that happen?

      You’re right.

      • Bolwerk says:

        For individuals, tax rates probably have little influence on where they decide to live in the scheme of things. It’s a more important decision for companies, however.

        I really don’t see why driving some people to the suburbs is necessarily undesirable. People who want to park two vehicles in front of their housing unit are the people who should go to the suburbs. NYC was never good at accommodating them, and shouldn’t bother. If they still want to commute back into the city, they can contribute their weight in taxes.

  4. Emilio says:

    A smarter way to go about it could be to raise fares and then have NYC residents get discounts on Metrocard machines inside city limits.

    • Quinn Raymond says:

      Not a bad idea, but how would you verify NYC residents were not re-selling metrocards to out-of-towners?

  5. dungone says:

    He called the plan “penny-wise and pound foolish”

    This, from the man who cancelled the Arc project for political reasons.

  6. UESider says:

    or albany being the capital of NY

    charge the suburbanites for the infrastructure they use

    means test it – if businesses move to save a few bucks on mta fares, so be it. we’ll adjust. but i doubt a commuter tax would have that affect on any scale

    let these guys pay for what they use and stop riding the backs of people paying city tax. we need a break more than they do!

  7. Eric F says:

    “They’d rather take advantage of our city’s services but not pay for them as well.”

    If they are “commuters”, they are paying income tax to NY on income they earn here. They pay sales tax on the things they buy here. The companies they work for pay payroll taxes (including an MTA payroll tax!), income taxes and property taxes to NYC. The fewer commuters you have, the less money NY gets. NY would not benefit from fewer commuters. The Commuters do not use NY schools, do not use NY public assistance, don’t use the prisons, don’t use senior citizen services. Apart from maybe a couple of areas, they don’t even use libraries or parks.

    I’ve made these points before, they must have registered. I have no idea why you’d continue to take the counterfactual position that commuters are a drain on NY.

    • Billy G says:

      The answer to your question is simple. This forum is full of collectivists that feel entitled to a continued subsidy. There is a vociferous faction that will continue to extoll the greatness of receiving from a benevolent government without regard for the origin of the government’s funds.

      The real answer is to do zone-based fare collection on the subway and bus. If the train or bus have to go more miles to get you from A to B, you pay more. Pay for actual use. But, of course, the collectivists in the outer boroughs would cry foul.

      • Alon Levy says:

        The only collectivists here are people who think they’re entitled to free roads paid by various taxes.

      • Bolwerk says:

        There is a vociferous faction that will continue to extoll the greatness of receiving from a benevolent government without regard for the origin of the government’s funds.

        True, but most people here are not fans of the GOP and don’t think that way.

        The real answer is to do zone-based fare collection on the subway and bus. If the train or bus have to go more miles to get you from A to B, you pay more. Pay for actual use.

        If that’s a real answer, what is the question? If you want to make NYCTA an agency that pays back the costs of its operations, reduce operating expenses by ~35%. There is no reason to spend years making a disruptive change to a different fare collection model.

        But, of course, the collectivists in the outer boroughs would cry foul.

        You must be the biggest fan of increased gas taxes and road pricing ever!

    • Bolwerk says:

      The Commuters do not use NY schools, do not use NY public assistance, don’t use the prisons, don’t use senior citizen services. Apart from maybe a couple of areas, they don’t even use libraries or parks.

      Stringer seemed to be calling for a tax proportional on what they consume, which would probably mostly be transportation. To a lesser extent, they do use policy, fire, and whatever other emergency services there are, and have a right to use the libraries too.

    • Andrew says:

      I don’t use NY schools, I don’t use NY public assistance, I certainly don’t use the prisons, and I don’t use senior citizen services either.

      Have you seen the parks in Manhattan at lunchtime?

    • Andrew says:

      I don’t use NY schools, I don’t use NY public assistance, I certainly don’t use the prisons, and I don’t use senior citizen services either.

      Have you seen the parks in Manhattan at lunchtime?

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