NY Democrats scramble to fund MTA after congestion pricing delay, while Republicans call for full repeal

Republicans in the New York State Senate are demanding that congestion pricing be fully repealed, rather than put on indefinite pause, as Governor Kathy Hochul did this week.

Republican lawmakers say they're worried congestion pricing will come back after the election in November and that New Yorkers simply cannot afford it. 

They also accuse the MTA of "flushing hundreds of millions of dollars away" by constructing the gantries for congestion pricing that will not be used beginning June 30.

Meanwhile, Hochul and state Democrats have been scrambling to come up with other sources of revenue to fund the MTA. 

Hochul had initially suggested a business tax, but that fell flat. Now, sources tell FOX 5 NY that Democrats are considering a bill that will commit a billion dollars from the state's general fund in order to make up revenue lost from congestion pricing. 

RELATED: Congestion pricing paused, business tax proposed: What's next?

Congestion pricing was signed into law by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019 after years of advocacy from public transit advocates.

In a pre-recorded statement, Hochul said she was blocking the plan because of its financial burden on residents dealing with inflation and high costs of living. She also cited the city's fragile economic position as it continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street would have had to pay tolls of around $15, depending on vehicle type, on top of tolls for entering the same area via certain bridges and tunnels.

Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat who chairs a legislative finance committee, noted that the proposed business tax would eventually be passed down to workers and said she does not think her chamber would support such a proposal.

"Remember, payroll mobility taxes are actually taxes on the workers. It's not a corporate tax, it's a tax on the workers," said Kruger, adding "I believe the governor did misjudge this."

The New York City Independent Budget Office said the tolls had been expected to yield $400 million this year and then $1 billion annually. Toll revenues were set to finance $15 billion in capital projects for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs a vast transportation network in the city and throughout big chunks of the state.

The MTA has already allocated more than $400 million for infrastructure to implement congestion pricing, according to the budget office, and has a contract worth more than $500 million with a private vendor tasked with operating and maintaining the tolling infrastructure.

Before the abrupt reversal, Hochul had been an avid supporter of congestion pricing and had touted the program as recently as two weeks ago. Heavy pushback began to mount as the start date neared, with harsh criticism coming from the city's suburban commuters.

With the Associated Press.