Nozzolio Calls On Spitzer To Support Upstate By Rejecting Thruway Toll Increase

Michael F. Nozzolio

November 26, 2007

Albany – After Governor Spitzer’s pledge to secure $600 million for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to avoid bus and subway fare increases for New York City commuters, State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio is calling for the Governor to show the same concern for Upstate residents by rejecting a proposed increase in Thruway tolls.

Last week, in the face of public opposition to a proposed subway fare increase in New York City, Governor Spitzer promised $600 million in state funding for the MTA to keep fare prices down. However, Governor Spitzer has yet to work to stop a Thruway toll increase for Upstate New York’s residents.

“After pledging additional state funding to end the fare increase in New York City, why is the Governor not working to also end the Thruway toll increase for Upstate residents? This is a basic question of fairness and we need the Governor to begin action now,” said Senator Nozzolio. “Low transportation costs are critical for all New Yorkers – whether they live in New York City or Upstate New York.”

“Governor Spitzer needs to treat Upstate residents the same as those living Downstate. He cannot continue to show preference for one part of the State to the detriment of millions of other residents. There needs to be equity. Just as he did for the MTA by promising them $600 million, the Governor has the ability to provide additional state resources to the New York State Thruway Authority to eliminate the need for a toll increase,” continued Nozzolio.

Officials at the New York State Thruway Authority are expected to vote on a package that would approve a 10% toll increase in January, followed by 5% increases in each of the following two years.

So far, the New York State Thruway Authority has refused to back down from their stated intention to increase Thruway tolls and Governor Spitzer has yet to become involved in discussions with Thruway Authority officials to find other sources of revenue so that toll increases will not be needed. Senator Nozzolio is urging the Governor to secure additional state funds to eliminate any proposed toll hikes by the New York State Thruway Authority, just as he has for the MTA for downstate New York City commuters.

“Any toll increase on the Thruway would be a tax increase by the New York State government on the already overburdened residents in my Senate district. Governor Spitzer has made it a top priority to keep subway costs down for New York City residents, it is only fair that he also put a stop to toll increases on the Thruway for Upstate residents. The New York State Thruway is a critical transportation link for all of Upstate New York and is vital to the entire New York State economy. The Governor should follow-up on his campaign pledges by fighting any toll increases on the behalf of Upstate’s residents,” stated Senator Nozzolio.

“It shouldn’t matter whether you commute in New York City or Upstate New York – high commuting costs always hurt the economy and are a major quality of life issue. It is imperative that the Governor begin immediate discussions with officials at the Thruway Authority to stop the toll increase,” concluded Nozzolio.