June 20, 2017 By Jason Cohen
State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) plans to increase taxes on the wealthy to help cover the cost of repairing the run-down subway system.
The senator plans to introduce legislation, titled “Better Trains, Better Cities,” that would institute a three-year, temporary state income tax surcharge on millionaires living within the 12 counties served by the MTA. The legislation would also raise New York City hotel/motel taxes during the three-year period.
The personal income tax surcharge would be graduated starting with those earning between $1m-$5m with the rate increasing above the $5 million mark. The hotel/motel tax would be an additional $5 fee to the current tax.
The surcharges, according to Gianaris, would raise more than $2 billion annually, which would be allocated exclusively to maintaining and upgrading the MTA system at the discretion of an “emergency manager.”
The bill calls for the creation of a new position, called an emergency manager, whose primary responsibility would be to oversee the maintenance and operation of MTA trains.
The emergency manager, according to Gianaris, would be nominated by the governor and confirmed separately by the state Assembly and Senate. The appointee would have to be confirmed within 90 days of his/her nomination and must present both the assembly and senate with a comprehensive plan of action before a confirmation vote is held.
Modeled on the successful ‘Safe Streets, Safe City’ program that played a large role in reducing high crime rates in the 1990s, “Better Trains, Better Cities” would create a temporary surge of dedicated revenue to deal with an ongoing crisis, Gianaris said.
“The dismal state of our mass transit is as much of a crisis today as rampant crime was decades ago, and it requires the same attention and dedication of resources to solve,” Gianaris said in a statement. “My ‘Better Trains, Better Cities’ plan provides the focus and resources necessary to reduce the chronic delays and service interruptions plaguing our system and end the nightmare commuting has become for too many New Yorkers.”
The bill is being sponsored in the Assembly by Danny O’Donnell (D-Manhattan). “While the MTA is a state run agency, it needs to remember that the majority of the subway use is in the city,” O’Donnell said.
“With a daily ridership of nearly 5.7 million people, the New York City subways are an integral component of our economy and New York State’s tourism industry,” O’Donnell said in a statement.
“Whether ferrying workers, students, or visitors, our public transportation system is expected to operate as advertised – on time. We have reached a transportation emergency…most of which affect already underserved communities. The economic impact is drastic, which made partnering with Senator Gianaris on this common sense solution a simple decision,” O’Donnell said.