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ON FURTHER REVIEW: Cuomo’s Speed Camera Bill May Not Be As Good As City’s [Updated]

12:01 AM EST on January 15, 2019

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson made some bold proposals on Tuesday. Photo: John McCarten

ALBANY — Hours after Gov. Cuomo announced that he would double New York City's speed camera system, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, um, is that all?

The governor will announce Tuesday as part of his State of the State address that he will allow the city to deploy 290 school zone speed cameras, but that number is dramatically smaller than the unlimited number of cameras authorized by city legislation that Johnson shepherded through the Council last year.

"The Council was proud to enact speed cameras in time for the school year, a crucial measure that undoubtedly saved lives," Johnson told Streetsblog. "I haven’t seen the proposal yet, but it does not seem like an expansion of the current law, which allows for an unlimited number of speed cameras."

It is unclear what will happen next. The governor's office did not provide advance details of what Cuomo is expected to announce on Tuesday, so Johnson could not fully comment. In August — after the State Senate failed to pass an Assembly bill that would have authorized 290 cameras — the City Council passed that allowed the city to deploy as many cameras as it wanted. That authorization would only expire when the state legislature passed a camera program "that is identical to, substantially similar to or more expansive in scope than the program that would result from the enactment of" the Assembly bill in question.

Cuomo's 290 cameras are clearly not "more expansive" than Johnson's unlimited number. [Update: And when the details were finally released, reporters and others quickly noticed that Cuomo's plan is a "demonstration program" that expires in four years.

Both lawmakers agree that speed cameras are a life-saving device. Since 2014, the city's existing 140 school-zone camera systems caught more than 4.6 million speeders — with more than 80 percent never receiving a second ticket, which is evidence that automated ticketing reduces recidivism. When the Senate failed to pass the Assembly bill, Cuomo used his emergency powers to maintain the existing speed cameras.

"There is indisputable evidence that speed cameras save lives, and as public servants we must use every available tool to protect our children," Cuomo said in a statement on Monday.

Johnson is expected to be on hand at Cuomo's State of the State address on Tuesday in Albany. Mayor de Blasio is also expected to attend. Unlike Johnson, de Blasio seemed pleased with Cuomo's speed camera announcement on Monday, saying through a spokesman that the mayor "appreciates the governor’s commitment to expand speed cameras."

Well, that makes one city official.

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