Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt (R,C,I-Greenwood Lake) has renewed her call that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) immediately suspend collection of their Payroll Tax and return any previous taxes collected pending a complete forensic audit by Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“One by one our local businesses are closing their doors due to this state’s excessive tax rate. The Payroll Tax has been the nail in the coffin for too many employers, costing them their ability to compete and hold onto jobs. At the same time, the MTA continues to dole out raises and overtime while cutting services and raising fares. This tax must be rescinded immediately,” said the assemblywoman who has been a leading opponent of the tax since its inception in 2009.
Assemblywoman Rabbitt continued, “The comptroller says he is looking into it and conducting audits, but where are the results? It has been nearly a year since the comptroller told me he had embarked on an extensive, comprehensive audit plan. Yes, he is moving forward, but studying the MTA’s recycling program is not the type of audit we need.”
In an April 21, 2010 letter sent to the assemblywoman in response to her calling on the comptroller to conduct the audit, the comptroller wrote: “I share your concern about the MTA’s fiscal health and the quality of its management efforts. We all know that the MTA’s ability to deliver economical and efficient services affects millions of New Yorkers. Its finances affect even more. For these reasons, I have embarked on an extensive, comprehensive plan to audit the MTA.”
In his letter, the comptroller also described some of the previous audits conducted on the MTA, including on ridership trends and progress of the MTA’s capital security program. The results of these audits led to front-page news stories blasting the authority for its lack of management. However, since last summer, the only audits made public have been in regards to the MTA’s recycling program, bus maintenance and contracting with minority and women-owned businesses.
“It has often been said ‘there is no try, there is only do.’ And that’s what I am saying to the comptroller now. Stop skirting around the issue and investigate the meat and potatoes of the agency. While I appreciate his thorough accounting, this authority has much bigger problems than its recycling programs. We must rescind this onerous tax and we all are counting on the comptroller to help,” said the assemblywoman.
Assemblywoman Rabbitt has been working with other elected officials throughout the MTA’s 12-county service area to call for immediate forensic audits by the comptroller and former state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. While the comptroller has agreed to audit the famously mismanaged authority, Assemblywoman Rabbitt contends that more needs to be done. She stated, “What the MTA has done is certainly not popular, it’s certainly not ethical – what we need to find out is, ‘is it criminal?’ A forensic audit will help us determine the legality of the MTA’s actions.”
The assemblywoman continued, “If any of these audits show negligence or mismanagement, there will be consequences to pay. However, if everything the MTA has done is simply in poor taste, then we need to take a hard look at rewriting the laws on the books. While we continue to sort through this authority and make those determinations, I believe continuing to hurt Hudson Valley jobs is simply wrong. Employers should not be paying one cent to this disastrous authority, especially not until all of these questions have sound answers.”
Members of the public are encouraged to write to their elected officials to ask them to support Assemblywoman Rabbitt’s call for rescinding the MTA Payroll Tax. She also is encouraging members of the public to share views on the MTA with her by e-mailing email@example.com or commenting on her Facebook page.