Senator Dale M. Volker Urges Equity For Western New York As Governor Promises $600 Million For New York City Commuters

William T. Stachowski

November 21, 2007

(DEPEW, NY) Senator Dale M. Volker (R-C-I, Depew) today urged Governor Spitzer to promise additional state funds to eliminate any and all proposed toll hikes by the New York State Thruway Authority, just as he has for the Metropolitan Transit Authority for downstate New York Commuters. Senator Volker has already urged the State Comptroller to perform a thorough audit of the New York State Thruway Authority finances. The State Comptroller has agreed to an audit and is going to expedite the audit process.

"What is good for New York City commuters should be just as good for western New York commuters as well," said Senator Dale M. Volker. "Yesterday, Governor Spitzer publicly stated that the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which is the state’s transit agency for downstate New York commuters, should not increase their fares, and promised $600 million to the Metropolitan Transit Authority in order to stop increases in fares. We demand equity! However, the Governor has passed the buck and said there is nothing he can do. I find this slightly disingenuous. Just as he did for the Metropolitan Transit Authority by promising them $600 million, the Governor has the ability and the influence to provide additional state resources to the New York State Thruway Authority to eliminate the need for increased tolls for western New York residents, commuters and tourists."

Senator Volker continues to call for delaying any and all toll increases proposed by the New York State Thruway Authority until a thorough audit by the New York State Comptroller’s Office is completed and the State Legislature can review the outcome of the audit. Additionally, the State Senate will propose having public hearings on the outcome of the State Comptroller’s audit to allow for the full disclosure, openness and transparency of the operational and programmatic goings on at the New York State Thruway Authority. In the meantime, the Governor has the ability to financially assist the New York State Thruway to stop any toll increases, just as he as done with the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Last year, the State Senate was instrumental in getting rid of the two commuter toll plazas outside of the City of Buffalo. By making sure that the bond covenants with the NYS Thruway Authority were honored, no increase in tolls were discussed nor proposed.