State Senator Jose Peralta, Who Opposed Congestion Pricing, Backs Move NY

State Senator Jose Peralta, who opposed congestion pricing and East River bridge tolls as an Assembly member, is the first state legislator to publicly endorse the Move NY toll reform plan. The proposal would create a consistent toll cordon for Manhattan south of 60th Street while lowering tolls on outlying bridges to raise funds for transit and roads (mostly transit).

Photo: NY Senate
Photo: NY Senate

“Sometimes you have to be first to get the ball rolling,” said Peralta, who represents Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst, and Ditmars-Steinway in Queens. “I wanted to get that ball rolling.”

Peralta said he was motivated to endorse the plan because without a change of course, his constituents would face unending toll and fare hikes and get little in return. “The alternative we’re going to be faced with is that tolls are going to jack up over 20 dollars, and then what?” he said. “There’s no alternative.”

“This is a great long-term solution to a nightmare problem,” Peralta said of Move NY. “You have to be proactive rather than reactive.”

Peralta views the Move NY plan differently than the 2008 congestion pricing proposal and the 2009 plan to toll the East and Harlem River bridges, both of which he opposed.

“What’s changed here is this is a more equitable plan,” he said. “I know there will be tolls on bridges that are currently free, but the balancing off and the reduction of tolls on some of the other bridges will make up for that fact.” Peralta was also attracted by Move NY’s potential to fill the gap in the MTA’s capital program and fund ferry service and express buses.

“The toll reduction is a break when it’s all said and done,” Peralta said. “Instead of talking about toll hikes and fare hikes, if we can inject into the conversation a toll break, a fare break, it’s a win for our constituents.”

Peralta said he met with the Move NY campaign three times, including last week with the Queens delegations to the state legislature and City Council. Peralta said his fellow legislators have had a “mixed reaction,” with some opposed to the plan from the start, while others have questions. “It’s just a matter of educating the legislators, and saying, ‘What’s the alternative?'” Peralta said.

Ultimately, Governor Cuomo must support the plan for it to be successful. So far, he and Mayor Bill de Blasio have been noncommittal about toll reform. “They may want to tweak it… and that’s fine,” Peralta said. “They’ll warm up to it.”

The Jackson Heights Green Alliance, an environmental group based in Peralta’s district, was pleased by his Move NY endorsement. “We welcome Senator Peralta’s support for the Move NY plan,” said JHGA co-founder Will Sweeney. “As residents of Jackson Heights, we endorse efforts to increase funding for mass transit in ways that are equitable, sustainable, and economically viable. Move NY will have a massively positive impact on our community and we urge all our representatives to support it.”

Peralta’s endorsement comes after Bronx Council Member Jimmy Vacca joined Eastern Queens colleague Mark Weprin in backing the plan earlier this week. Move NY expects more legislators to come out in support of its plan in the days ahead.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “This is a great long-term solution to a nightmare problem.”

    Hey Jose, if you bond against all the revenues for 30 years the solution only last five years. Then it’s back to the nightmare, an imposing further losses for your constituents.

    A real long term solution starts with this, adds other things (including finding ways to bring the price of capital projects down) and includes no borrowing for anything but entirely new infrastructure (like the second phase of the SAS).

    “The alternative we’re going to be faced with is that tolls are going to jack up over 20 dollars, and then what?” he said. “There’s no alternative.”

    Peralta seems young enough to care about “then what?” The legislators who got us into this mess just want to keep running up the tab and then flee to Florida before it is due, along with their crowd.

  • J

    This is a big deal, and it’s good to see a variety of politicians start to jump on board with this plan. If enough politicians back this, then Cuomo & de Blasio’s claim that this doesn’t have enough support.

  • Komanoff

    Meet Larry L, the original “glass half-full” guy.

    And, “Hey Jose” comes off disrespectful. Can we knock it off, please?

  • Larry Littlefield

    I was a big fan of Reyes.

    And I want both halves. Given the choice of being in this situation now and five year from now, with the toll money gone, I’d rather face it now.

  • Jose Reyes

    I am happy to join a fan in an online discussion. Especially when they are correct in their beliefs about a toll plan. This is an issue that is quite serious and way more important than baseball which I am blessed to play for a living.

  • Larry Littlefield

    There you are señor!

    And the Mets are truly New York’s team.

    Why? Because they were unable to resign you because they ran their finances like the State and City of New York, borrowing to pay for ongoing expenses like Bobby Bonilla’s salary! And expecting bubble like returns from the financial ponzi sector to get them out of it.

    Ah, but with five years of sacrifice and sound financial management the Mets have been able to reverse the damage. And so could NY state and city IF they were willing to bite the bullet while it remains an alternative to biting the dust.

  • J_12

    Larry Littlefield,
    I think one problem with your outlook is that you are advocating that the city should shrink out of its problems, whereas the best solution would be to grow out of them.

    Cutting back on important infrastructure like transit, while it may improve the balance sheet in the short term, is likely to lead to a death spiral with a declining revenue base the increasingly will be absorbed by legacy fixed costs, thereby leading to further dis-investment.

    The city should be looking at ways to grow, in terms of population, income, business investment, and the like, to generate increased revenue streams that will allow it to reduce debt service as a fraction of the total budget.

    This is not to say that careful oversight of public investment is not important, of course it is as there is huge potential for waste. But the solution has to be more, not less.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I think one problem with your outlook is that you are advocating that the city should shrink out of its problems.”

    Not so. I am advocating facing up to the fact that younger generations have been made worse off by Generation Greed, and making honest decisions.

    In the case of the transit system, that is something younger generations are flocking to, in droves. So I advocate paying what it takes to maintain it. And paying (or defaulting on) the debts run up because past generations were unwilling to pay.

    You seem to advocate not paying for things, but just assume future generations will be richer and can pay for what you do not, so borrow for it with the promise that they will be made worse off to pay it back.

    By the way, isn’t “grow our way out of it” the right wing rationalization of debts run up to pay for tax cuts? Yes. It’s bi-partisan. It’s Generation Greed.

  • This “Generation Greed” nonsense is intellectually dishonest, and undermines practically everything else you say.

    There is nothing wrong with workers securing pensions. More fundamentally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with placing that cost on future generations.

    Current workers paying for the pensions of retired workers is the model that should be in place in perpetuity. This is how a sane and civilised society operates.

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