VICE: Albany Finally Has a Chance to Reform the Subways

John Surico

November 08, 2018

Originally published in VICE News on November 08, 2018.

To find out where Albany stood on all of this, I decided to give that local elected official from earlier a call the day after the elections — especially since it was my own state senator, Michael Gianaris. “The reality is a Senate majority that is going to prioritize MTA funding,” the senator told me. “And at least have people who care about finding a solution.”

Sitting on the MTA Sustainability Task Force, Sen. Gianaris said the group plans to release a slate of recommendations by the end of this year, which will include congestion pricing. He added that the funding mechanism wasn’t the only solution being mulled; it has been reported that the scheme wouldn’t garner every dollar of what the MTA will need. “But we have to find money somewhere,” he said.

Previously, Sen. Gianaris, who is second-in-command of his party’s conference, had proposed a “millionaire’s tax” on New York’s highest earners to pay for mass transit fixes, which Mayor de Blasio later supported. (The mayor pushed the measure again on Wednesday, calling it the “most politically viable” solution.) The “millionaire’s tax,” Sen. Gianaris said, will also be weighed in coming discussions.

When asked about Gov. Cuomo’s role in the discussions, Sen. Gianaris told me that the governor has “been a clear supporter” of congestion pricing, and other reforms. And while the current leaders of the MTA are said to be cutting costs, he said, overhauling how the authority actually spends its money — which Gianaris has criticized before, specifically in my own district — is also a priority of the new State Senate, he said.

“Everything’s on the table.”

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