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Albany pumps the brakes on MTA funding plan in rebuke of Hochul’s move to ditch congestion pricing

Albany lawmakers pumped the brakes on a last-ditch funding plan for the MTA on Friday — in a significant rebuke of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s sudden move to scrap congestion pricing.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins mentioned lawmakers would go away the capital and finish their legislative session with no deal on a glorified IOU substitute for the $1 billion a yr congestion pricing would have raised for the crumbling transit company for every of the subsequent 15 years.

“I will not be back tomorrow,” Stewart-Cousins mentioned at round 5:30 p.m. Friday — after lawmakers spent practically two days scrambling to come to an settlement about if and the way to exchange the misplaced MTA income.

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks in front of an American flag.
Gov. Kathy Hochul drew hearth on practically all sides for scrapping congestion pricing seemingly with a Plan B to make for a $15 billion loss to the MTA. Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Proponents of congestion pricing — which might have charged drivers $15 to enter Manhattan beneath sixtieth Street beginning June 30 — hailed the delay as a win.

“Governor’s proposed IOU was nothing more than a pinky promise that the bond market would NEVER believe let alone finance, and would have been the nail in the coffin for congestion pricing. No thanks!” mentioned state Sen. John Liu (D-Queens) in a put up on X.

“It forces a longer conversation about what we should do and I hope she (Hochul) reverses course and allows congestion pricing to go into effect,” added Assemblyman Harvey Epstein (D-Manhattan).

The delay doubtlessly places years of MTA funding in limbo after Hochul scrapped the controversial congestion plan with out an obvious Plan B to exchange its income aside from a broadly reviled — and shortly rejected — tax hike.

The solely actual settlement throughout the New York political world amid the political chaos was about Hochul.

“The great consensus is that Hochul is a moron,” mentioned John Samuelsen, the Transport Workers Union International president, about the MTA board, on which he’s non-voting member.

Lawmakers sit in the New York State Asssembly Chamber.
Pro-congestion pricing lawmakers vocally opposed Hochul’s last-minute MTA bailout Friday. AP

Hochul’s shock choice Wednesday to indefinitely pause congestion pricing — whereas hailed by many in and round New York City lengthy involved about the value of the tolls on the working class — got here simply two days earlier than the state legislative session’s finish.

The high-stakes legislative race was difficult by an precise horse race – the Belmont Stakes – that threatened to boot state lawmakers from their resort rooms this weekend, making it unlikely the session could be prolonged.

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who had a Saturday flight to Europe booked, mentioned lawmakers can nonetheless return to the legislature “sometime between now and January” to vote on a funding substitute.

“I would assume the MTA would feel a lot better if they have something now to go to the bond market with, but if the three legs of the stool can’t get to a place we’ll have to figure it out, like I said, at a later date,” he mentioned.

A license plate reader in Manhattan meant to collect congestion pricing tolls.
The indefinite pause of congestion pricing raised questions from many lawmakers about how a lot cash had been sunk in the program, together with on license plate readers in Manhattan. Christopher Sadowski

But some lawmakers who publicly opposed the bailout mentioned there already was a supply of MTA funding: congestion pricing.

“I cannot in good conscience ratify a decision that will eliminate a significant, dedicated revenue source for the MTA’s capital plan while leaving the MTA’s needs subject to the frenzy of the annual Albany budget trough,” state Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn) mentioned in assertion.

“Derailing this important program at the last possible moment and asking the legislature to come up with an alternative funding mechanism in less than 48 hours is irresponsible and inconsistent with principles of good governance. That is why I oppose the IOU bailout,” mentioned Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.

Many rank-and-file lawmakers expressed frustration about the IOU proposal, which they’d not been ready to learn throughout a protracted Friday, and the congestion pricing chaos in normal.

“It’s outrageous,” one assemblyman informed The Post of being left in the darkish about the invoice.

“This is a false choice and a manufactured crisis,” mentioned Assemblyman Tony Simone (D-Manhattan).

“This was a ridiculous last minute decision by the governor, and I’m a big fan of her and I still have hope that she’ll change her mind and again make another U-turn.”

The indefinite pause of congestion pricing additionally raised questions from many lawmakers about how a lot cash had already been sunk in the program, together with on license plate readers in Manhattan.

Sensing blood in the political waters, members of New York’s congressional House Republican delegation demanded Hochul and MTA boss Janno Lieber spell out how a lot had been spent on the scuttled congestion pricing scheme.

“This pause comes with a more than $500 million dollar contract already signed for equipment and installation, which now appears useless,” the letter drafted by Rep. Mike Lawler reads.

“There appears to be a colossal cost that has been run up for the development of this plan, only for it to be suddenly paused for what can only be viewed as political purposes.”

The NYC Independent Budget mentioned Thursday the MTA allotted $427 million to this point.

Samuelsen, the MTA board member, wasn’t the solely transit company honcho scratching his head.

“This is one of the most unusual actions I’ve seen,” David Jones, one other MTA board member informed The Post about Hochul’s reversal on congestion pricing.

“There may be genius behind it. I haven’t seen it yet.”

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