Kellner to Ravitch: Don’t Bother Proposing East River Bridge Tolls

kellner.jpgAdd Micah Kellner’s name to the MTA doomsday scorecard. Yesterday, the Upper East Side Assembly member came out in favor of increasing license and registration fees for New York drivers as a transit revenue booster.

Under the Kellner plan, which originated with the non-profit Citizens Budget Commission, motorists would pay flat fees, rather than the weight-based assessments recently proposed by city comptroller William Thompson. Kellner says the new fees would raise $550 million a year — a little more than the income projected from tolls on the now "free" East River bridges.

On that note, Kellner’s press release includes this odd passage:

"Early indications suggest that the Ravitch Commission will announce Friday that tolls on the East River bridges are the centerpiece of their recommendations. This is a proposal that has been recycled time and again in each and every fiscal crisis but has always failed to gain the necessary support to be implemented. I don’t know why they think this time will be any different, but I am hopeful that the Governor’s office will look to other ideas like this one and reinstituting the commuter tax as he constructs his Executive budget."

Could it be that the idea of imposing East River bridge tolls is "recycled time and again" because it’s a proven and equitable course of action? Rather than take a stance for or against, Kellner characterizes new tolls as a non-starter — as if, as an elected state representative, he himself is in no position to influence the issue.

Sounds all too familiar.

  • fdr

    Kellner characterizes new tolls as a non-starter because he knows the elected state representatives from the outer boroughs won’t vote for bridge tolls any more than they would vote for congestion pricing.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    …any more than suburban representatives will vote for a commuter tax!

    Micah’s proposal is a non-starter too. How about that?!

    I suppose Micah knows that with the Republicans nearly deposed in Albany this is all coming down to a “millionaire tax,” more taxes on corporations and fare increases for transit riders (which can be blamed on the evil MTA).

    I suppose Micah also knows that if there’s one Assembly district in the entire city where that might not play very well it’s his own. I hear they’ve got a few millionaires and corporate employees and transit riders up there on the Upper East Side. Thank goodness for Micah that most of them are oblivious to what he’s (not) doing in Albany…

    They can vote once more for a State Assembly representative who is more than willing to abdicate his own personal leadership to whatever happens to be the “political reality.” I’m calling him Micah Mouse from now on.

    I mean, really: What would it cost this guy to go out on a limb and say we’ve got to get behind Ravitch?

  • Larry Littlefield

    There is a great three-part series on the destruction of New Jersey due to pensions over on the Star Ledger blog. The first part is here…

    http://blog.nj.com/njv_johnbury/2008/11/rip_new_jersey_state_pension_p.html

    and has a great, great, great quote that also applies to NY’s pensions, the funding of the MTA, other federal, state and local governments, Wall Street, many other businesses, many people’s personal finances, etc.

    “There is a scene in Mel Brooks’ The Producers where Gene Wilder realizes the jig is up and starts intoning ‘no way out’ while clutching his blankie since, being a reasonably learned accountant, he grasps the situation. Zero Mostel however, whose schemes got them into their mess, still thinks there are outs. That’s how an unbiased pension actuary would feel looking at the state of the New Jersey pension plan. It’s effectively dead but we still have the Zeroes who got us into this mess running around selling more hopes and dreams.”

    Same with the MTA.

    And while they are selling those hope and dreams (remember the 50-year transit plan?) they are sucking more money out for those that matter.

  • Isn’t it true that the rate of car ownership is decreasing among the NYC voting public? Isn’t the percentage of voters that drive across the bridges often enough to care about tolls decreasing? With a growing population in a territory that is not growing, and that has already maxed out on space available to cars, it can’t be otherwise. And besides, successive generations don’t have the same enthusiasm for exhaust spewing machines that baby boomers do. We know that the only way we’ll ever see an “open road” is if people stop driving all the time. (I wouldn’t mind an open road or two, on special occasions.) Kellner’s defeatist “time and again” refrain only holds water if transportation has not changed and isn’t changing, across all the boroughs: that’s not the case by a long shot.