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Albany Reform

Bloomberg: Expect Some Tweaks to Pricing Bill

This morning, the Mayor's office praised the introduction of a congestion pricing bill in the State Assembly. At the end of the statement, Bloomberg drops a hint that the bill on the table is in for some fine-tuning:

We look forward to working with the Assembly, the Senate, the Governor and the City Council to work out the unresolved issues that have been raised, including mitigating the impact on lower-income drivers and ensuring that commuters who use Port Authority crossings are doing their part.

So, some effort is still underway to tweak the current bill or otherwise address the "New Jersey issue", even though, as Janette Sadik-Khan and Rohit Aggarwala pointed out at Monday's City Council hearing, Port Authority tunnels will generate $45 million in pricing revenue each year without changing the legislation one bit.

This issue could be resolved, as transportation expert Carolyn Konheim has suggested, by bumping up the congestion fee to $10 across the board. However, working out some sort of deal with the Port Authority without raising the fee seems more politically feasible at this point, especially in light of Sadik-Khan's hearing testimony:

There are still some questions to resolve on the issue of a greaterPort Authority contribution to transit in New York. There is a legalissue with charging different prices to different groups of people,there is a political issue, because the Port Authority is a bi-stateagency, and there is the policy question -- can the Port Authorityagain support the MTA capital program? It participated in the first MTArebuilding program, from 1982-1986.

Offsetting part of the fee for low-income drivers, meanwhile, has long been rumored to be a pre-condition of Speaker Silver's support. The Bloomberg administration has hinted that it is working on some sort of manipulation of the earned income tax credit to accomplish this.

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