Today’s Headlines

  • NYT: If Cuomo Cuts Payroll Tax, He Must Ensure MTA Is Reimbursed and That Funding Is Secure
  • For All the MTA Payroll Tax Details, Head to Capital Tonight
  • Lefevre Family Just Wants the Truth About Son’s Death, and NYPD Won’t Give It to Them (NYT)
  • Denise Richardson on MTA Tax Cut: Cuomo Preparing Return to 80s Disinvestment (WSJ)
  • Silent on the Details, Daily News Endorses Cuomo Infrastructure Plan
  • Juan Gonzalez: Cost Overruns Creep Up for Hudson Yards, 7 Train Extension (News)
  • School Bus Driver in Fatal Crash Drags Bronx Pedestrian for Minutes; No Charges (News)
  • Tudor City Residents Want to Turn Dead End Into Plaza, Have DOT Support (DNAinfo)
  • After Xmas Blizzard, MTA Added Consumer Advocates and Emergency Response Training (NYT)
  • Special Toll Deal for Staten Island Rebuffed by Port Authority, New Jersey (Advance)
  • Victoria’s Secret Boots Parking Garage From Its Basement, Will Set Up Runway (Post)
  • The Ever-Growing Number of NYC Pedestrians Is Just Enormous (NYT)
  • NYC Real Estate Industry Should Make Peace With Parking Maximums (Atlantic Cities)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • The NYPD’s cruelty and callousness towards the Lefevres is a blot on all of New York City. 

  • Larry Littlefield

    What no one will say — as pension and debt costs soar as a result of the deals a generation has cut with itself, as taxes are increased and services are cut, the state income tax rate on public employee pension income is…

    zero.  No matter how young a worker gets to retire, no matter how high that retirement income is, no matter that most people under 55 are having their retirement benefits cut and will be facing old age in poverty.

    Zero.  And no one will talk about it.

    Said the Governor:  “Simply put, to me “fairness” dictates that the more you make the more you pay and the higher your income the higher your rate. Also, you should be treated the same as people with similar incomes and differently from people who make significantly more, or significantly less, than you earn.”

    Again, no one will talk about this.

  • Media Maven

    I just want to second ocschwar’s comment below.

    Try putting yourself in the Lefevre’s shoes for a minute. What an unbelievably awful and unjust way for our city to treat people.

    The one point missing from Dwyer’s column: The way the NYPD is treating the Lefevre’s is standard operating procedure. This isn’t a particularly bad case. It’s entirely normal. Virtually all ped and cyclist fatalities are treated as “accidents” and blamed on the victim. The drivers who did the killing are rarely investigated or brought to justice. Getting information about the circumstances of the killing out of the NYPD is almost impossible unless you can afford a lawyer who is really willing and able to go after it.

  • Anonymous

    Glad the NYT finally picked up the Lefevre story. While I’m not convinced the article reflects how outrageous the situation is, we can hope that it will embarrass the NYPD at least a teeny tiny bit.

  • J

    Here’s a Transportation Nation story to add to the list. Majority support East Harlem bike lanes at meeting last night:

  • Just a Hipster

    Once again the headline on a tragic story about a pedestrian killed by a careless driver reflects the idea that it’s the vehicle’s fault:

    “School bus strikes; kills man…”

    Cars don’t kill people.  People with cars kill people.

  • Joe R.

    Agreed Larry about taxing retirement income, although I still think the first $20,000 or so in city/state pensions should be exempt from income tax (actually, the first ~$20,000 of anyone’s income should be exempt from income tax because that’s a poverty wage in NYS/NYC).  The reason for the exemption was to keep retirees from moving to states with no income tax.  That’s fine, but in cases where someone’s pension is very high, some of it should still be taxed like regular income.  Actually, if we just exempted the first $20,000 of all income from taxes, then low-income pensioners wouldn’t be treated any differently than anyone else.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The reason for the exemption was to keep retirees from moving to states with no income tax.”

    Actually it goes back much further, but only for public employees.  And they come back from other states when the money runs out and they need custodial care.

    But in any event, here is an article from San Diego about what is probably already happening in New York.

    “Local roads are deteriorating faster than they can be fixed. So are San Diego’s sidewalks, storm drains and city buildings. Slowly, they’ve all been falling apart. A national transportation group ranked the region’s roads the eighth worst in the country.”

    “Past city leaders say it became too easy to ignore as elected officials looked to cut taxes and expand services.  “”The invisible cut that usually happens when things get really bad is maintenance,” former City Manager Jack McGrory said. “Nobody sees it.””The neglect of the city’s roads, buildings and storm drains shows that the short-term thinking behind San Diego’s infamous pension deals weren’t isolated incidents, but symbolic of a larger citywide ill. City road repairs nearly stopped in 2004, the same time its political and financial crises started to peak.”Let’s say I don’t expect an announcement in Albany or City Hall that a non-decision has been made to do this to our infrastructure.  The unsaid is a lie.

  • carma


    I agree with you partly on the taxing of pension income.  Most state positions lets you retire with only 20-30 years of service.  for someone who has been working since their early 20’s, at the age of lets say 50, its still quite young for them to retire.

    even with a pension, most get another job to either fill the void of not working, or need additional income.  i say ALL pensions needs to be taxed.  however, i do agree that not taxing pension does sound attractive so that NY’ers dont flee the state to lets say texas or florida with no income tax.

    with regard to poverty and not paying income taxes.  i disagree.  i say ALL folks needs to pay taxes.  it doesnt matter if you are poor or rich.  you need to pay your fair share.  now, im not saying that a person with 20,000 in annual income should be paying 30%, but it shouldnt be 0.  maybe 1-2%.  its only fair.  now, of course, on the flip side, someone making 200,000 shouldnt be paying 1-2%.  they should be paying around 20% or more.  and in many cases, they pay far more than 40% of their entire income if you include all taxes.

  • Joe R.

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus If you did as I said, and just exempted the first $20,000 from income taxes, then no need to treat pensions “special”.  And single people making $20,000 already pay far more than the 1% to 2% you think might be fair.  They pay 15.3% in FICA taxes (I count the employer’s portion here because that’s money which otherwise could have gone to paying them a higher wage), about $1200 ( 6% ) in Federal taxes, perhaps another 3% in state/city taxes.  That’s nearly 25%, not including any sales taxes they may pay.  Actually, the sales taxes alone probably would amount to the 1% to 2% figure you mentioned.  The idea of having everyone pay SOME taxes is fine, but you have to realize that with the lowest income brackets you’re literally taking food out of people’s mouths if the level is more than a few percent.  Right now one big injustice is the amount of income/payroll taxes low income workers, particularly single workers, pay.  Why nobody has addressed this is beyond me.  Even simply giving single people the same EIC as a couple with 2 kids would alleviate most of this problem.

    I personally think a sales tax in lieu of income taxes is a better solution, provided you exempt the necessities (food, rent, non-luxury clothing, etc.) poorer people might need from the tax.  The poor will still pay *something* when they buy non-necessities, but they will pay far less than they do now.

  • Joe R.

    @f9b2cb395abd5a101456b3b0a40912e1:disqus As far as I know, deferred maintenance of roads has been standard operating procedure in NYC for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been cycling for 33 years.  I honestly can’t remember a time when the streets here were ever that great.  Sure, they’re slightly worse now in places, but it’s not a case of they were great 10 years ago, and now they stink.  If the city would only start using concrete when rebuilding roads, then we might actually get the problem under control.  Asphalt streets are penny-wise, dollar foolish.  Concrete lasts longer, doesn’t develop potholes, and even saves energy by allowing tires to roll more easily.

  • > Contacted on Tuesday, Mr. Degianni would not say if he had been behind the wheel. “It hasn’t been proven yet,” he said.

    How can the police declare “no criminality” in a crash where no one admits to driving the vehicle that killed somebody–did they hire a psychic? Degianni’s own expression of doubt underscores that we need a trial to establish who was in fact driving the truck, and what happened.

  • carma

    Joe, I cant say that they pay 15.3% in FICA.  It is only the employee portion.  I seriously doubt an employer would give higher pay to an employee if they werent required to pay their portion of FICA.  on the flip side, any tax held accountable for a company seems to always be passed on to a consumer.

    im also only talking about federal taxes.  yes, in high tax states like ny, the poor do pay their state and city taxes and there really is not much around it, so yes, they do pay something.  however, in terms of federal income taxes, 47% dont pay a dime.  nadda.  you can argue that they do pay FICA, which in theory is your retirement money.  but we all know, or at least should know that the federal government has raided that fund to pay for other expenditures.

    i agree on the sales tax part though.  although higher sales taxes opens up more black market opportunities when everything is paid with cash.

  • carma


    It also boggles my mind why more streets are not paved with concrete instead.  concrete lasts so much longer than asphalt paved roads.  yes, it would cost more to build a road with concrete, but maintenance is so much less, considering you dont deal with potholes popping up every winter.  and you know its only going to get worse with heavier more frequent snow storms.

    i go on bike a lot on flushing ave in queens, and there are portions where its absolutely horrendous.  i feel i always have to look down to avoid a pothole.  its funny b/c i was riding on the PPW lane a few days ago, and even on this, i noticed that there are a few spots with uneven pavement and a few spots with minor cracks.  potholes are far more dangerous to bicycles than cars.  a car simply gets a broken axle going over a crater, but a bicycle over a pothole can break you.


  • Larry Littlefield

    “Joe, I cant say that they pay 15.3% in FICA.  It is only the employee portion.  I seriously doubt an employer would give higher pay to an employee if they werent required to pay their portion of FICA.”

    My view of tax incidence is a little different.  The FICA limit is currently around $105K.  Have raises been higher for those earning more than that amount, or less than that amount, since the payroll tax was increased in 1983?  Give that raise to someone earning less than $105K, and you pay a higher payroll tax on top of it.

    The Medicare tax has no limit, but is only on wage and self employment income.  What has gone up more over the past 30 years, wage and self employment income, or the capital gains those at the top pay themselves?

  • J_12

    Larry, I agree that in the interest of fairness public employe pension income should be taxed just like any other source of income.
    However, how much potential revenue are we talking about here?  Do you have any indication of how much income goes untaxed by the state on a yearly basis due to this exemption, and how much of it would otherwise be subject to state income tax?
    I would guess that there are many recipients of public pensions whose total income is very low, and that those with incomes at the high end of the distribution would be most likely to move out of state if they had to pay taxes.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I would guess that there are many recipients of public pensions whose total income is very low, and that those with incomes at the high end of the distribution would be most likely to move out of state if they had to pay taxes.”

    Those with low incomes would not be taxed in any event, of course, but remember that lots of government workers “retire” in their 40s or 50s and then get other jobs.

    Lets’ say, for example, you have a teacher retiring at 55 having made $110,000 and receiving a pension of $55,000 to $60,000 depending on years worked.  Then they go out and get a job for $75,000.  The spouse has a job making $75,000. 

    That means you have $150,000 before you start counting the pension.  Which means at the state level the pension would be taxed at 6.85%, vs. nothing now.  That would be $4,110 at the state level, over and above any NYC taxes, each year until they actually “retire.”   At that point, the spouse might have retirement income too, and there is Social Security (not taxes by NY State today) and any other investment income.

    Police and fire probably end up around $100K too, given OT, and the half pay (or more) payout goes on for much longer.

    In addition, even if they move out, isn’t that pension income “earned” in New York and wouldn’t it thus be subject to NY income taxes?  Of course then the total would be lower because the other income would be elsewhere.

    IMHO there should be one break for public and private workers.  It should start at a very limited level at age 67, when the serfs get to collect their Social Security (which is all they get), and grow larger until age 87, when perhaps half of all retirement income could be exempted.  Remember there is already a deduction if out of pocket health care expenses are high as a share of income.  Today, it is possible (I’m not sure) that deduction is as a share of income after all retirement income is excluded.

  • carma

    Larry, one thing govt employees need to follow from the private sector is to get rid of the pension system.  as we stated, many employees so called “retire” in their 40’s 50’s.  to me that is not retirement, but the start of your life.  why should you be set for life when most are very able to work.  they need to move onto the 401k plan and have their own money contributing to retirement.  or at the very minimum, raise the age in which you can start collecting to the REAL age for retirement for most folks which is either 62/65/67.

    The only folks who REALLY deserve a traditional pension are military, police and fire.  yes, i know most folks here rip on the police, but trust me, they have a VERY difficult job. the firemen as well, after inhaling years of nasty fumes on the job.

  • fj

    Climate change is adding a premium to transit infrastructure costs  @transportnation

  • fj

    Developing Climate Change Resilience
    via the Rockefeller Foundation

  • Goldberg