Saturday, June 09, 2007

Legislators Gridlock Congestion Plan

The reaction to yesterday's hearing on the mayor's congestion tax was, well, underwhelming. As the NY Times reports this morning, "State lawmakers gave a cordial but cool reception today to the congestion pricing plan proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, asking whether it amounted to a regressive tax on middle-class and whether its costs were worth its costs were worth the promised benefits."

And in a companion piece by Andy Newman, the Times underscore what we have been emphasizing: "Outside Manhattan, Many Oppose Traffic Plan." The more people become aware of the plan's costs, the more outer borough New Yorkers are going to register their discontent. The fact that the mayor, in his testimony yesterday, admitted that the plan might not alter behavior, but will generate funds, is going to make a lot of folks upset. The money quote: "But Bloomberg said the plan is worth trying, even if it doesn't reduce traffic, just for the public transit money."

Which is exactly what most average people believe-the congestion scheme is simply another tax on middle class New Yorkers. Many of those interviewed by the Times found the idea "appalling." As the paper noted: "But it was plainly the very idea of adding yet another expense to the cost of doing business in the city that irritated those who live in New York City, even if they live a considerable distance from Manhattan."

As Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said yesterday, calling the tax "regressive," "If there's a proposal that's fairer, and that's practical, we should adopt it." Clearly, however, most of the assembly folks, reacting "skeptically" to the mayor's plan, don't think that this proposal is the one. And there is certainly no impulse to move quickly either Denny Farrell's comments are to this point: "This is not a time for haste, but for thoughtful consideration." Given all of this we kind of wonder what The Observer was seeing at yesterday's confab.

All of which should mean that Speaker Silver is in no mood to rush, and in fact the Post's Fred Dicker believes that Shelly will kill the plan, seeing it as a back door commuter tax that will hurt his members in Brooklyn and Queens particularly. All of the moaning by the Daily News editorialists on this issue won't change the perceptions of the Speaker, nor will it convince most New Yorkers that this congestion pricing tax makes sense.