State Sen. David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) expressed frustration with the New York State Thruway Authority’s plan to increase tolls and renewed his calls for legislation that would require Senate and Assembly approval of any future toll increases.
"Decisions affecting so many travelers and commuters, and potentially impacting the Upstate economy, should not be made without legislative input and public oversight," said Sen. Valesky. "The way to do that is to require legislative approval for increases in toll fares, the same way the SUNY system must clear tuition increases through the legislature."
Earlier this year, Sen. Valesky reintroduced legislation in the Senate, S.2206, that would amend the public authorities law to require that any increase in tolls on the Thruway system will need the express approval of the New York State Legislature. Currently, the Thruway Authority Board itself votes to approve proposed increases.
"This measure would assure that proper and effective legislative oversight occurs before any Thruway toll increase is enacted," said Sen. Valesky.
Following the Thruway Authority’s announced plans for increased tolls, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli indicated he would conduct an audit of the Authority. Senator Valesky strongly supports this audit, and urges the Authority to hold off on any votes on toll increases until after the audit is complete.
Senator Valesky believes that there are many reasons not to increase tolls. First, this toll hike is blatantly unfair to Upstate businesses and commuters. New York’s Agriculture industry could be especially hard hit because of the reliance on the Thruway for delivery of produce to urban markets. And, these increases will likely increase commercial truck traffic on local roads as commercial drivers detour off the thruway to avoid tolls.
"New Yorkers already face increased gas prices," said Sen. Valesky. "Now is not the time to pile on with increased tolls. To get people back on the thruway, for leisure and business travel, we need incentives, not obstacles."