The mayor of New York City wants to tax the wealthiest 1 percent to fund repairs and improvements to the beleaguered subway system.
The proposal comes as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both Democrats, continue to squabble over responsibility for paying for repairs to the nation’s largest transit system that has seen growing delays, mechanical failures, power outages and even derailments.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota recently unveiled an emergency plan to stabilize the system. The governor offered to split the cost of the plan with the city, but the mayor refused to commit money to support it.
The mayor’s tax plan is meant as a long-term solution, not a quick fix, he said. It aims to generate nearly $800 million annually with the bulk of the money going toward capital upgrades to subways and buses, and must be approved by state lawmakers. A formal announcement was expected Monday.
“Instead of searching for a quick-fix that doesn’t exist, or simply forking over more and more of our tax dollars every year, we have come up with a fair way to finance immediate and long-term transit improvement,” de Blasio said in a statement Sunday.
The tax would increase the top income tax rate from about 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent for married couples who make more than $1 million and individuals making more than $500,000, city officials said. It would affect about 32,000 of New Yorkers filing taxes in the city, or just less than 1 percent, officials said.
“Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra,” de Blasio said.
New Yorkers already contribute to the agency through other taxes and fees. De Blasio’s plan also includes funding to offer half-price fare cards for low-income riders.
The Rider’s Alliance said the push to help low-income riders “has never been so urgent.”
“It’s time to end a system where low-income New Yorkers have to skip meals, beg for swipes or even jump turnstiles in order to get to work or school,” executive director John Raskin said in a statement.
From the Utica OD