Effort to find funding for MTA expected to end with no deal in wake of congestion pricing pause

ByLindsay Tuchman, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, June 8, 2024
Effort to find funding for MTA expected to end with no deal in wake of congestion pricing pause
Josh Einiger has the latest details.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- An effort to replace $1 billion in expected congestion pricing revenue for the MTA was expected to end Friday with no deal.

New York State lawmakers were considering a bill that would commit $1 billion to the MTA to cover the expected lost revenue from congestion pricing, but both sides said they expected the legislature session to end with no short-term funding plan in place.

"As of now, I don't believe that will happen today," said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins.

Governor Kathy Hochul's decision to indefinitely postpone congestion pricing left a big funding void for the MTA. The plan was set to raise the Transit Authority approximately $1 billion annually to support $15 billion in capital investment.

Hochul on Friday defended her decision to block a plan to reduce New York City traffic and raise billions for its ailing subway system through a new toll on Manhattan drivers - but offered little detail on how she would replace the program's financial and environmental benefits.

In her first public appearance since announcing she was indefinitely pausing the "congestion pricing" toll, Hochul maintained the move was driven by economics and conversations with New Yorkers, particularly people at a Manhattan diner she frequents.

"I can't do anything right at this time that would also suck the vitality out of this city when we're still fighting for our comeback," she told reporters at a news conference Friday night in Albany.

Hochul this week suggested raising taxes on businesses to make up for the toll revenue. The proposal immediately sparked criticism that higher taxes would hurt the city's ongoing rebound from COVID-19 and run counter to her rationale for halting the program. Lawmakers eventually rejected the tax hike plan.

It was not clear from Hochul's remarks how she planned to replace that money. But she told reporters, "We gave a lot of thought to this."

"No one should question my commitment or the leaders' commitment to ensure that these projects are properly funded," the governor said.

Meanwhile, if it had been successful, the bill being discussed Friday would have committed money from the state's general fund for the next year, which would have then allowed the MTA to bond $15 billion for its capital projects.

The money would have essentially been an 'IOU' to cover the revenue that was expected from congestion pricing.

Lawmakers were trying to have the legislation passed by the end of the day before the state Legislature adjourned.

Senate Democrats met privately Friday morning. Democrats would need 32 of their 41 senators to pass the bill if no Republicans voted in favor of it.

Six Democrats already put out statements indicating they would not support -- Zellnor Myrie, Andrew Gounardes, Julia Salazar, Kristen Gonzalez, Jabari Brisport, and Jessica Ramos.

The money from congestion pricing was expected to pay for the Second Avenue Subway extension, modern signaling that allows subway trains to move faster, subway track maintenance and the purchase of new buses and train cars.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ALSO READ: NJ reaction to postponement of congestion pricing

Anthony Johnson has the latest in New Jersey on congestion pricing.


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