Suburbs Continue To Revolt Against MTA Tax

Over the last couple of weeks, I have written many entries about the big war breaking out between multiple towns/counties & the MTA over the constitutional legality of its Mobility aka Payroll Tax. Andrew Grossman of the Wall Street Journal looks into the growing issue more:

A suburban rebellion is brewing against the payroll tax that was the centerpiece of last summer’s bailout of the MTA.

State senate candidates in the suburbs—especially on Long Island—have made the payroll tax dedicated to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority a focus of their campaigns. Meanwhile, suburban counties are filing lawsuits that argue the tax is unconstitutional. Revenue from the tax accounts for $1.3 billion of the agency’s projected $12 billion 2011 budget.

“Out here on the East End of Long Island people rely a lot less on” the MTA, said Smithtown attorney Lee Zeldin, a Republican trying to unseat Sen. Brian Foley. “That’s why there’s so much resentment.”

Mr. Foley, a Democrat, supported the bailout package that imposed the tax of 34 cents on every $100 of payroll in New York City and seven suburban counties. It kept the MTA from implementing drastic fare hikes and service cuts.

Mr. Foley represents a southern Suffolk County district that has two Long Island Rail Road lines running through it. The MTA proposed cutting weekday service on one of those lines, from Ronkonkama to Greenport, earlier this year. But it later decided against the move.

The payroll tax is emerging as a campaign issue largely in less-dense districts far from the city like Mr. Foley’s, where fewer residents use the MTA to get around.

Suffolk County said Tuesday that it would file a brief supporting neighboring Nassau County’s lawsuit challenging the tax. Other suburban counties and towns have joined Nassau or have filed their own suits.

Mr. Foley doesn’t like the tax and is working to make it less burdensome to businesses, said Jim LaCarrubba, his campaign manager. But he said it was a necessary tradeoff to avoid deep MTA cuts last year.

“It was either that or let them raise fares 35 or 40%, cut service dramatically,” Mr. LaCarrubba said. “To just say you don’t like it and have no solution on how to fix the problems, it’s not being genuine to the public.”

Click here for the complete report.

As I have stated on numerous occasions, I am not sure on the chances of this tax being overturned. One would think that if it wasn’t, the tax would not have been implemented in the first place. However considering the world we live in today & how out of control our government is, such common sense thinking usually does not apply.

Ignoring the fact it came from a campaign manager & the overall political gamesmanship aspect of it, I agree completely with Mr. LaCarrubba when he said “To just say you don’t like it and have no solution on how to fix the problems, it’s not being genuine to the public.”, in terms of the payroll tax.

This line of thinking can apply to any issue involving the MTA & life itself. Enough with attacking the MTA on a bully pulpit to gain constituent brownie points while offering no solutions. Even if their ideas are not good, at least something was put on the table which would lead to further discussions & exchange of ideas.

As I’ve said over the last couple of years, we need to elect people who understand & care about the importance of mass transit to our region. This includes not getting sucked into the driver vs transit rider paradigm which continues to rear its ugly head year after year. Hopefully we will get some pro transit officials into office during the upcoming election season.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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[…] news is not surprising as my previous entry talked about Suffolk wanting to join the lawsuit. This report just makes it more official. This is shaping up to be a huge battle for the remainder […]

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