Before Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith stalled the plan yesterday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had come up with a compromise idea to raise new money for the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority: charge a $2 toll for drivers to cross the East and Harlem River bridges, rather than the $4-plus toll that Gov. Paterson’s commission had originally asked for.

But this compromise, if it ever happens, would be less of a compromise than it seems.

As the bill that the governor has submitted to the legislature says, once the state has allowed the city to transfer the currently free bridges to the MTA, the MTA “may establish, levy and collect … tolls … as it may deem necessary, convenient, or desirable for the use of operation of any transportation facility, including the Harlem and East River Bridges.”

So, the day after the city had transferred the bridges to the MTA, the MTA could announce that it was doubling the $2 toll to be closer to the level of tolls charged on the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and others.

It would still have to go through the public hearing process, but that’s about it; it would not need further formal political approval.

This idea makes financial sense. A $2 toll probably isn’t worth the effort of building the toll-collection infrastructure and taking over the responsibility for maintaining the bridges.

It also makes political sense. Silver, Paterson, et. al. could blame the MTA for future toll hikes after having approved the initial, low toll.

Another tidbit: Upon the proposed transfer of the bridges from the city to the MTA, the governor’s proposal directs “the city of New York [to] provide to metropolitan transportation authority any and all city, state, or federal funds programmed on or prior to the date of transfer of such Harlem and East River Bridges to metropolitan transportation authority, for the design, maintenance, repair, improvement, rehabilitation or reconstruction of such bridges.”*

That would seem to mean that the city would still foot its part of the cost for the $500 million Brooklyn Bridge repair that it’s slated to start next year.

*The strange capitalization is from the original bill.

Tags:

You may also like

Lawmakers Mull Medicaid Proposals That Would Speed New York Toward a Fiscal Cliff

As a budget deal nears in Albany, reining in spiraling Medicaid costs seems to be the last thing on anyone's mind. Governor Cuomo is advancing only Read More

MTA: Overtime down, take our word for it

Every year for over a decade, the Empire Center has submitted Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the payrolls of MTA corporate subsidiaries. And in almost every one o Read More

A Federal Emergency Rule Is Inflating New York’s Medicaid Enrollment

Strings attached to federal coronavirus relief funding appear to be inflating New York's Medicaid enrollment – and costs – at a time when the state faces unprecedented deficits. Read More

New York Medicaid Spending Is Projected to Jump 6% in Fiscal Year 2021 (UPDATED)

Despite a round of cost-cutting this spring, New York's Medicaid spending is on track to jump by 6 percent this year thanks to a massive influx of federal aid. Read More

New York Has Widened Its Lead in Per-Capita Spending on Medicaid

New York's per-capita Medicaid spending soared to more than double the nationwide rate in 2018, widening its gap with the other 49 states. Read More

New York’s Medicaid Enrollment Surges to an All-Time High

New York's Medicaid program is growing at its fastest rate in six years, with a quarter-million additional enrollees landing in the safety-net health plan during the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic.  Read More

More fiscal turmoil for Medicaid

In a sign of pandemic-related strain on state finances, the Cuomo administration is postponing a series of multi-billion-dollar Medicaid payments over the next three months. Read More

DOH posts age & county data

#NYCoronavirus: The state Health Department released additional coronavirus data that gives a clearer picture of which counties and age groups have been hardest hit by the pandemic so far. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!