Long Island Republicans slam governor's congestion pricing plan

WESTBURY, Long Island (WABC) -- A group of Republicans from Long Island gathered Thursday to denounce Governor Andrew Cuomo's congestion pricing plan for Manhattan, which was recently approved in the state budget.

"Long Island drivers are being slammed by New York's Governor and a Democrat-controlled state legislature that are putting New York City first, financing Gotham's fiscal priorities on the backs of hard-working Long Islanders and other suburban drivers," said Nassau Legislature Majority Leader Rich Nicolello at a press conference held at the Nassau Republican Headquarters in Westbury.

The majority of the funds raised from congestion pricing would go to improve New York City's subway system. Ten percent of the funds would go to the LIRR.

"The MTA has proven one thing - they know how to throw money away. Getting more money from the suburbs, I have confidence that's what they're going to do - flush it away as has been consistent with decades," said Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin.

Congestion pricing would affect any driver who enters Manhattan below 60th Street during "congestion" hours. The fee itself has not yet been decided, but is expected to be more than $10. It would go into effect in 2021.

"The commuter tax represents taxation without representation in that the overwhelming majority of benefits will go to New York City mass transit, and Long Island voters have no say in the matter," said Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square).

At an event at Stony Brook University Thursday, Governor Cuomo spoke about the 2019 budget and the benefits for Long Islanders.

He said of the $15 billion, which is expected to be raised by congestion pricing, $2.5 billion will go to the LIRR. He said the state budget includes $6.6 billion for the LIRR.

Cuomo said congestion pricing is needed because, "we've underfunded the MTA for a long time." He said subway cars and electric switches, which are decades old, need to be replaced.

He said he would not consider any funding for the MTA until the MTA board is reorganized with new personnel.

"I am not going to approve one more penny for the MTA until we overhaul the management because I am tired of throwing good money after bad," he said.

State legislators are considering several possible exemptions to congestion pricing for drivers who are low income, have disabilities or are going to medical appointments.

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