Earlier this week, the State Thruway Authority announced a 5 percent toll hike to motorists, which will take effect in January 2010. This hike follows toll increases in January of 2009 and in April of 2008.
There are a number of actions the Thruway Authority can take to prevent raising these fees. According to the Office of the Comptroller, it has been predicted that $395 million will be spent on non-thruway projects between 2008 and 2010, such as the canal system, which can and should be deferred to other state agencies. The Authority also can take action to implement cost-saving measures that make it more efficient, rather than being yet another government agency refusing to tighten its belt. Lastly, by combining similar government agencies, such as the state Thruway Authority and the Department of Transportation, the state itself can save $924.6 million, likewise passing these savings on to the people of New York state.
This new toll hike by the Thruway Authority will be detrimental to New York businesses and those traveling through the state. It has been estimated by the Office of the Comptroller that while passenger cars account for 85% of the tolls collected on the state thruway they only contribute to 60% of the revenue; the remaining 40% is collected from commercial vehicles. These commercial vehicles already have felt a tremendous increase in gas and transportation taxes; to place additional toll hikes on businesses sends the message that they are unwelcome in New York.
During these tough economic times, businesses are fleeing for less expensive areas of the country, taking jobs with them and causing an exodus of hardworking taxpayers. It is time government leaders recognize that we are in a vicious and downward cycle that can be halted only by real, bi-partisan reform. I will continue to argue against raising taxes on the hardworking people of New York. As a businessman, I know how detrimental they are to our recovery and refuse to accept these hikes as being our last resort.