$1 Billion From Port Authority Not Enough for Shelly Silver

On Saturday night, the congestion pricing bill in the State Senate was amended to include exemptions for low-income drivers and cars with handicapped plates. As expected, the changes also stipulated a way to make New Jersey drivers pay "their fair share." In the amended bill, the Port Authority is required to contribute $1 billion to the MTA capital plan, or else drivers who use the Authority’s Hudson River crossings will get a smaller pricing fee offset.

The Mayor’s office released a statement yesterday expressing optimism that the changes would win over legislators who remain on the fence:

The amendments that the Senate introduced last night to their bill will address many of the remaining concerns that we’ve been hearing from the City Council and members of the State Legislature.

But the amendments apparently did not satisfy Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Appearing on New York 1 last night, Silver said drivers from outside the city were still getting off easy:

"I don’t think it addresses the issues that are before us, like those people that cross the Hudson, either coming from New Jersey or Rockland," said State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "The statement is, you don’t contribute to congestion. It’s only Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx we’re asking to pay, not the others. That’s one of the major issues here."

You read that right. It seems Silver either doesn’t believe a billion dollars is a big enough contribution from drivers who cross the Hudson, or he wants them to pay up directly, instead of having the Port Authority pass on funds to the MTA.

Then there’s this from today’s Post:

The State Assembly will not even consider the controversial congestion-pricing plan until a new state budget is passed, Speaker Sheldon Silver privately told his members…

  • ManhattanDowntowner

    ” In the amended bill, the Port Authority is required to contribute $1 billion to the MTA capital plan, or else drivers who use the Authority’s Hudson River crossings will get a smaller pricing fee offset.”

    In effect, this carrot of a $1 billion to the MTA capital plan does absolutely nothing to actually decrease traffic congestion at the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. Commuters who use these tunnels will still pay the same fee -so there is no deterrent to traffic congestion here. In the mean time, everyone else pays more.

  • Dave

    It is appalling to me that Shelly Silver puts his personal feelings above the best interests of his constituents, the vast majority of whom would benefit from CP. Shame on him.

    Why does no one get that this is a trial and that it is inevitable that there will be changes once it is implemented? The only fixed element is the fact that we will lose $354 million if we don’t pass this thing.

    Shelly I will hold you personally responsible if we lose that money. Just like I hold Bruno responsible for the $300 million or so in commuter tax revenues.

    Can someone tell me how we get both Bruno and Silver sent to the trash-heap? Isn’t Bruno a lameduck anyway? Thanks.

  • JF

    In effect, this carrot of a $1 billion to the MTA capital plan does absolutely nothing to actually decrease traffic congestion at the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. Commuters who use these tunnels will still pay the same fee -so there is no deterrent to traffic congestion here.

    What about all the cars who now go from the “free” Williamsburgh, Manhattan and Queensborough Bridges to the tunnels?

    What about the fact that tolls were just raised by $2 – one-third – at those tunnels?

    Your “absolutely nothing” hyperbole does absolutely nothing to further your arguments.

  • flood the lines people!

    DISTRICT OFFICE
    250 Broadway
    Suite 2307
    New York, NY 10007
    212-312-1420

    ALBANY OFFICE
    LOB 932
    Albany, NY 12248
    518-455-3791

  • Spud Spudly

    It’s great if the PA puts in a billion, but it has no direct effect on drivers from NJ. Better that the drivers should have to pay directly if the goal is really to reduce the number of people using their cars.

    And Dave, I don’t think too many people are jumping up and down about the chance to get $354 million. With the numbers being routinely thrown around, a one-time infustion of $354 million seems like spit in a bucket.

  • Dave

    Spud: I’ll take the $354 million.

    It is a lot if we don’t get CP passed so don’t get those revenues, don’t get the PA money; essentially if we get nothing.

    I wish someone wold respond to the inequity that the toll credit given to the PA drivers at the HT, LT and GWB is a round-trip toll and the toll credit given to the MTA drivers is one-way.

    Credit the PA drivers only $4 and charge a $4 CP fee. It really makes sense.

  • rlb

    If 354 million is a spit into the bucket, then the 21 million that the MTA came up short on those fare increase related enhancements is the droplet of spittle which ricocheted out. If so small a volume could have resulted in tangible benefits, a gift more than ten times the size shouldn’t be taken too lightly.

  • “Can someone tell me how we get both Bruno and Silver sent to the trash-heap?”

    Donate!

  • Spud Spudly

    A gift of $354 million would be wonderful, but it has more strings attached to it than a marionette. And the number isn’t big enough to get most people excited enough to overlook those strings. It’s like a rich uncle paying you off to marry your ugly second cousin and go into the family mortuary business. (Or whatever)

  • fdr

    Silver has a couple of potential opponents but I don’t think anyone considers him to be in serious political trouble. As for Bruno, he’s for congestion pricing, and anyway, I don’t think his constituents care if people in NYC are mad at him. Probably makes him politically stronger.

  • Respect the Past

    I know that there are a few similar groups in the works, but is there any way to organize a political PAC who will support all candidates that support CP? Any other way to get rid of Sheldon Silver? Can not handle this guy any more, and I’m a Dem.

  • Shemp

    To get rid of Silver, you would have to start a movement of people to move their residences to his district, like the libertarians moving to New Hampshire.

  • Want to get rid of Sheldon Silver? Here’s how.

    I am running against Silver in September’s Democratic Primary, his first challenger in over 20 years. I am a firm supporter of congestion pricing, and have highlighted the issue in my campaign.

    Support my campaign here: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/entity/18787

    Check out our website and shoot me an email here: http://www.newellnyc.org/

    Thanks,
    Paul Newell
    Democrat for Assembly, 64th District
    Lower East Side, Chinatown, Financial District, Battery Park City
    http://www.NewellNYC.org

  • For more info on my stand on congestion pricing, check out The Albany Project:

    http://www.thealbanyproject.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=2616

    Thanks,
    Paul Newell
    Democrat for Assembly, 64th District
    Lower East Side, Chinatown, Financial District, Battery Park City
    http://www.NewellNYC.org

  • Spud Spudly

    Good luck to you Paul, you’ll need it. The people in his district would be nuts to vote out Shelly since he makes their little slice of heaven the most politically powerful enclave in the entire state of New York. I doubt they’re one issue voters as obsessed with congestion pricing as the people on Streetsblog, and if they were upset by his corruption of the system they could have gotten rid of him years ago.

    As for Bruno, he supports CP for two main reasons: First, Bloomberg’s money told him to. Second, he’s looking forward to having another excuse to slash state support for the MTA. That may sound cynical of me but look who we’re talking about here.

  • But if he doesn’t vote in their interests on things that matter, what’s the point of his clout? I’m sitting in that district right now, and I can’t think of anything feasible that would have a better effect on the daily lives of residents (and workers) than cutting back congestion and improving transit. But then, I’m also sitting in Streetsblog. And I’ve also been accused of being a one issue voter on a half dozen issues (?). Primary candidates often agree on the bulk of the “issues,” even if they’ve got it all wrong (gas is too expensive, baa!), so you can and must base a voting decision on a single one. This year in NYC it will be congestion pricing, for a lot of people on both sides. There is PLENTY of time (and money) to educate the public and get subway riders appropriately riled up if things don’t go our way this week.

  • Jason A

    If the PA is expected to contribute an additional billion dollars a year to the MTA, wouldn’t the PA then need an additional revenue source to offset this new payment? Seeing that the Hudson crossings are a significant source of PA revenue, wouldn’t it reason that the Hudson tolls will have to (again) rise?

    I honestly don’t know… But that’s what seems obvious to me…

  • Hilary

    Let’s hope the billion comes from the Freedom Tower project instead…

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I disagree with Spud’s reflexive, superficial and simplistic view of Joe Bruno. Granted Bruno was part of the tag team that eliminated State support for the MTA over the last decade. But when the Mayors of NYC, one after the other, eliminated theirs it would have been too much of a lift for him to do otherwise. A lot like the lamented loss of the Commuter Tax. When Giuliani was attempting to bribe the NYC real estate industry it became impossible for any upstate and suburban politicians to continue the Commuter Tax.

    Joe Bruno is a practical politician who wants to retain his majority against a tidal wave of registration. However, he does have a complete and nuanced understanding of mass transit issues and has pushed many progressive and innovative ideas. The two are not mutually exclusive and I think that is what drives him here. He thinks his commitment to good transportation policy will help him retain his majority.

    I just wish Bruno and the Senate Majority would take on Main Line Third Track on the LIRR, the rookie Democrat Johnson opposes it and it would be nice to see the Republicans raise it as an issue trying to take back that seat.

  • Spud Spudly

    That is by far that most effusive praise I’ve ever heard of Joe Bruno outside of his district, where his every niece, nephew and brother-in-law has a cushy state job doing something of marginal importance to the taxpayers such as renaming public works in Bruno’s honor.

    He chopped state support for the MTA — but how could he not? He killed off the commuter tax — but his hands were tied! Quite the apologist you are.

  • Aside: please excuse my comment of 11:30 suggesting the Climate Change PAC to dispose of Bruno; in my haste I overlooked that he has not been an opponent. “Respect the Past” you may have missed this post from Thursday (it is easy, in the current frenzy!). The Climate Change PAC is the PAC you are looking for. “We’re not only going to weigh this heavily when making endorsements, but how people vote on congestion pricing will weigh very heavily in how we use the PAC money.”

    Sorry to keep harping on it, but I am thrilled to have somewhere to invest in no-excuses conservation policy for the city. I had hoped this was coming, after seeing internet fundraising make such a difference lately in national politics. In local politics it could be even more dramatic. Livable streets fans should consider giving to the PAC now, while it can help Albany make up its mind. Even after we get pricing approved (I’ll let myself be that optimistic now) it will continue to need political support, and there will be other challenges after this one to secure the public transit and space for humans that our city deserves. Congestion pricing is not the holy grail, as a friend of ours is fond of saying. It’s more like a yellow brick road.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    It is what it is Spud. And, I’m assuming you are correct that he hooks up his family. Don’t you? I do, when I can. I’m not expecting him to be purer than Caesar’s wife. He has his problems with the Law.

    I’m just saying he has a clear understanding of the dynamics of mass transportation and how it drives urban political economies. Bloomberg has never returned the city piece of the MTA cuts either, but he came up with this instead and Joe Bruno supported it. What more do you want out of a guy who raises horses in Rensaeler County. Still he does more for mass transit before he gets out of bed in the morning than the politicians who slammed the MTA fare increase but still voted no on CP do in their entire careers. Bill De Blasio could learn a lot from the guy, including about how to be Italian.

  • Looks like the City Council’s superficial notions of “equity” are coming back to bite them on the ass:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/02/nyregion/02congestion.html
    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newjersey/ny-bc-nj–trafficfee0401apr01,0,5184472.story
    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/04/corzine_blasts_ny_officials_fo.html

    …unless what they wanted was a poison pill, of course.

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