Paterson Backs Pricing, Introduces Bill in Albany

David Paterson is going to do right by his old State Senate district after all. New York’s new governor settled any doubts about his position on congestion pricing this afternoon, introducing a bill that follows the recommendations of the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission. The Daily Politics has the scoop:

"Congestion pricing addresses two urgent concerns of the residents of New York City and its suburbs: The need to reduce congestion on our streets and roads, and thereby reduce pollution, and the need to raise significant revenue for mass transit improvement," Paterson said.

Paterson also said that by introducing the bill, the City Council and the Legislature will be able to "examine the details" and "make an informed judgment" going forward.

It has yet to be determined if the Paterson bill differs at all from the bill that surfaced in Albany earlier this week. However, highlights of the legislation described in the governor’s statement match the contents of the earlier bill. The full statement, as well as press releases from Mayor Bloomberg and pro-pricing groups, after the jump.

GOVERNOR PATERSON ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR TRAFFIC MITIGATION PLAN

Governor David A. Paterson announced today that he has submitted a Governor’s program bill, that follows the recommendations of the New York City Traffic Mitigation Commission report of January 31, 2008 to allow for the City Council and State Legislature to consider a bill that meets the requirements of the United States Department of Transportation Urban Partnership Agreement, which contributes $354 million in federal funds.

“Congestion Pricing addresses two urgent concerns of the residents of New York City and its suburbs: the need to reduce congestion on our streets and roads, and thereby reduce pollution and global warming; and the need to raise significant revenue for mass transit improvements,” Governor Paterson said. “We expect that revenue from the Congestion Pricing plan will support more than $4.5 billion in needed capital improvements for mass transit and meaningfully reduce traffic into the Central Business District of Manhattan. Before the constructive process of deliberation proceeds in both the City Council and the State Legislature, transparency requires that the public fully see what the system envisioned by the Commission will entail. While Commission Report highlighted other issues which need to be resolved, introducing this bill allows the City Council and Legislature to examine the details of the proposal and make an informed judgment on the Congestion Pricing program.”

Highlights of the bill include the following provisions recommended by the Commission:

The Congestion Pricing zone would include any roadways in Manhattan south of and inclusive of 60th Street between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for certain public holidays.

Establish the fee as recommended by the Commission, including a surcharge on taxis and livery vehicles.

Eliminate the Manhattan long-term parking tax discount for vehicles parked within the zone.

Set out privacy protocols based on existing EZ Pass privacy controls.

Provide exemptions for authorized emergency vehicles; safety, traffic and parking control, and inspection vehicles; sanitation vehicles; school vehicles; and privately operated over-the-road buses.

Prescribe a residential parking permit program.

Lay out the environmental review process for Congestion Pricing which follows the Commission’s recommendation.

The City will oversee a monitoring program for traffic, air quality, noise, parking and other environmental impacts and release annual reports; a preliminary report will be available to the public within six months of the operation date.

The funds raised by the fee will be used, after deducting for the cost of operations, to support the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) capital plan, which was released at the end of February. Priority for funding will be for areas in need underserved by transit.

Capital expenditures will be subject to approval by the MTA’s capital program review board, and a representative of the New York City Council Speaker will have the same rights and privileges of the board members appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Senate Minority Leader and the Assembly Minority Leader.

For capital expenses derived from Congestion Pricing, the MTA will follow all legally applicable prevailing wage laws.

Any increase in parking fees by the City, as recommended by the Commission, will go into a “transit enhancement fund” to be used exclusively for additional transit, pedestrian, bicycle and parking management improvements, including ferries.

The statute passed last July that established the Traffic Mitigation Commission, requires the Mayor to request the State Legislature to consider the plan where such request has been approved by the City Council by a majority vote on a resolution. It is expected that the City Council will consider such a resolution shortly.

Press release from the Mayor’s office:

STATEMENT BY MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG ON GOVERNOR PATERSON’S SUPPORT OF CONGESTION PRICING

"Today, Governor Paterson has demonstrated true leadership by submitting a  congestion pricing bill to the Legislature that will meet all of the objectives we’ve set – cutting traffic and reducing pollution to improve our economy and public health, and raising revenue to fund much needed projects included in the MTA Capital Plan.  The bill is a giant step forward, and its timely passage will ensure that New York gets $354 million in federal money that we’ve been promised.  Those funds will allow us to make immediate transit improvements.  We will work with the Governor and our partners in the State Legislature and the City Council to address outstanding issues – including reducing the impact on lower income drivers, and concerns about commuters who use Port Authority crossings contributing to the MTA Capital plan. Together, I’m certain we can pass a bill that will improve the lives of New Yorkers."

Statement from Michael O’Loughlin, Director of the Campaign for New York’s Future:

“At a time when New York urgently needs enlightened leaders to take courageous action on big challenges, Governor Paterson has today boldly demonstrated his dedication to a better future for New York.  By introducing legislation to enact congestion pricing for better transit, he is advancing a truly historic and visionary plan to reduce gridlock, improve the bus and subway system 7.5 million New Yorkers count on, and clean the air we all breathe.  This is an important step forward, especially for the millions of working-class New Yorkers who overwhelmingly rely on mass transit as their sole means of commute and daily travel.  With so much at stake, we are confident that our city and state leaders will join Governor Paterson in working together during the critical days ahead to resolve any remaining issues so that New York can receive $354 million federal dollars for immediate transit improvements and begin building the transit system we need to keep New York moving forward in the 21st century. Thank you, Governor Paterson.”

In related news, the Drum Major Institute released a statement today urging the City Council to pass pricing because it benefits New York’s middle class. Here’s an excerpt:

With the New York City Council poised to vote on congestion pricing on Monday, March 24th, the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (“DMI”), a New York-based think tank dedicated to promoting the interests of current and aspiring middle class Americans, once again reminded the Council that “standing up for congestion pricing and standing for the interests of average, hard working New Yorkers are one and the same.”

Last year, DMI issued a report entitled “Congestion Pricing: Good Policy For New York’s Middle Class,” [PDF] which concluded congestion pricing would greatly benefit current and aspiring middle-class New Yorkers in a multitude of important ways.  After Mayor Bloomberg’s original plan was revised by the New York City Traffic Mitigation Commission, of which DMI Executive Director Andrea Batista Schlesinger was a member, Ms. Schlesinger said, “I am delighted with the results of the Commission’s work.  What started out as an excellent plan has evolved into something even better.  Literally millions of average New Yorkers will benefit significantly from the adoption of congestion pricing.  It would be a tragedy for the City and State not to pass it.”

  • vnm

    This is huge, and terrific news.

  • Batty

    YES!!! I’ll be there Monday night.

  • brooklyn and i

    CALL THE BABY BY ITS REAL NAME
    TAX TAX TAX
    WIT THE NEW TAX PLAN IT IS A TAX MILLIONS OF DALLARS BUT NOT FOR YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
    1) THE TAX FROM LOCAL RESIDENT FOR THE PRIVILEGE TO PARK IN THE FRONT OF YOUR HOSE
    2) THE TAX FOR ALL SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS TO PAY A PLUS TAX FOR DOING BUSINESS
    3) TICKETING EVERYBODY WHO WILL PARK VS THE LAW( EVERY CAR WHO IS REGISTER IN NYC HAVE PAID A MINIMUM OF 100 DOLLARS IN PARKING TICKETS EVERY YEAR)
    4) THE FEDERAL BIG MONEY FOR THE CITY -“NOT ANY PAY BACK FOR THE LOCAL RESIDENT WHO WILL SUFFER FROM THE PARK AND RIDE AND ALL OUTER NEW REGULATION’S (CALL IT TAX SCAMS)
    5) ALL NEW GARAGE SYSTEMS BUSINESS WHO WILL COME UP IN NEIGHBORHOODS LIKE WIILIAMSBURG TO PROVIDE THE PARK IN RIDE FOR OUTSIDERS AND THAT TAX WILL NOT GO TO THE LOCAL NEIGHBORHOODS
    TAX TAX TAX
    MILLIONS OF DOLLARS BUT NOT FOR YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

    AND EVERY BROOKLYN POLITICIAN WHO WILL SUPPORT A NEW TAX WILL PAY THE FULL
    PRICE OF IT !!!

  • dbs

    This news story gives hope that our gov can help his friend David Weprin understand that CP is the real deal!

    Classmates remember Paterson at Hofstra

    BY TIMOTHY ROBERTSON | lidesk@newsday.com
    March 14, 2008

    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/state/ny-liread0315,0,6742130.story

    For New York City Councilman David Weprin, reading to his blind friend David Paterson during their law school days was more a learning experience than a teaching experience.

    “The amazing thing about David is that I read the material to him, but he absorbed it better than I did,” Weprin (D-Hollis) said Friday.

    “I would read to him, and then go back to him for the information and he would spit it back to me. Even though I read to him, I didn’t necessarily comprehend it,” he said. “My short-term memory wasn’t as good as his.” (con’t…)

  • JF

    WIT THE NEW TAX PLAN IT IS A TAX MILLIONS OF DALLARS BUT NOT FOR YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

    “Brooklyn and I,” can you at least read what other people are saying, not just repeat the same rant?

    This is a tax that we won’t pay, because we don’t drive! The money is supposed to go to our neighborhoods, though – street trees, repavings, sidewalk extensions! If you read the news articles, you’d see that.

  • JF

    Thanks for that link, DBS! Also, note this quote:

    Patton, who also read to Paterson, recalled that Basil Paterson wanted to send a car to take his son from his home in Hempstead to Hofstra, but David Paterson declined, opting instead to either hail his own cab or even bike from home to campus.

    In other words, this is one politician who won’t be trying to tell us that bikes aren’t transportation.

  • vnm

    A tax is a charge levied on all citizens. A user fee is a charge levied on those who use a particular thing. Screaming about how congestion pricing IS A TAX, while no doubt cathartic, is factually incorrect.

  • Louis

    vnm, you are wrong.

    A tax is a charge that has nothing to do with other costs. That is, it is a fundraiser. Taxes are not levied on all citizens. Cigarette taxes are not levied on all citizens.

    The difference between a tax and a fee is very simple. A fee indicates that the administration of something costs money, so therefore we need to charge you a fee to break even. A fee covers costs.

    A tax is a charge that doesn’t have anything to do with the cost of administration. Instead, it is a levie on some other thing, and is meant to raise money. In the case of congestion pricing, this really isn’t a bad thing at all. Especially in the light that the user fee wouldn’t even begin to cover the cost of operating these roads and the transit system, to boot. It is meant to raise money for transit, though.

    User fees are not meant to raise money.

    I don’t know where exactly this would fall. I would hesitate to call it a tax, because it’s not that much money.

    We should just call it what it is: A price of entry. It is a price to use the road. It’s a disincentive to use road space. It’s a toll. It’s a fare.

  • Prescriptivist attack! But my dictionary is not so persnickety: “fee: a payment made to a professional person or to a professional or public body in exchange for advice or services.” In the end it will be called whatever people call it, though the administering body has a great deal of influence. The screams (they often do come in capital letters) that c.p. must be called a tax because it is one in some sense are not credible, as similar energy is not expended to brand water utilities (generally profitable to governments) as taxes. Lots of names can apply to lots of things, but it works better if we settle fewer names per thing.

    I think that “pricing” is a neutral enough term; I can’t tell if it has an actual positive implication or if I just feel one because I’ve been longing for c.p. for a few years. “Fee” is more negative, but still pretty neutral. And “congestion tax” is openly intended to demonize the concept by its opponents. Like “death tax.” But I think these linguistic games lose their power when people realize that they do not have to pay the horrible tax in question. Non-smokers shrug their shoulders when cigarette taxes go up. And if regular people had any clue how unlikely it is they will have the wealth to be levied an estate tax, repealing the “death tax” would not get the majority support it does get in polls calling it such. But a tax on driving? Shrug. If you don’t like it, take the train like everyone else.

    Congestion pricing (“charging” usually, in London?) where you pay a charge or fee is just what economists called the model, and it doesn’t need any more names. If opponents want to spin their wheels with a hostile rebranding campaign that ultimately has little sway over a population that by overwhelming majority does not drive into the zone, whatever.

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