After the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) decided to take the “EZ-Pass” through Albany, Assembly members Steve McLaughlin (R,C-Melrose) and Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville) today have written to NYSTA Chairman Howard Milstein calling for a public hearing in the Capital District and questioning why, out of every region in the state, the Albany area was not afforded an opportunity for public comment on the proposed 45 percent toll hike. McLaughlin and Tedisco noted that the Capital District is home to a high concentration of toll plazas and commercial industries that use our state highways.
“I believe it’s insulting that those doing business in the Capital District, as well as small- business owners and taxpayers who would be affected by a toll hike, have not been afforded the opportunity to make their voices heard on what is a massive tax increase,” said McLaughlin. “Instead, Thruway Authority officials drove through the ‘EZ-Pass’ lane and forgot about us. If the Thruway Authority has any ideas about implementing this toll hike, they should give the Capital District the same respect and hold a public meeting for our area.
“Clearly, this massive toll hike would have a devastating effect on our trucking industry, which would be forced to take its business, revenue and jobs out of New York State in search of more cost-effective regions. Businesses from Price Chopper to Troy Sand and Gravel would take on these additional toll hikes and, ultimately, pass them on to the consumer.”
“In the past 20 months, we’ve worked across party lines with Governor Cuomo to turn our state’s economy around to help make New York open for business. This 45 percent Thruway toll hike would impose another roadblock to creating a climate where small businesses can succeed and create jobs,” said Tedisco, who is the sponsor of legislation (A.2040) to require legislative approval for any toll or fee increase on the Thruway.
“This toll increase, which amounts to a job-killing tax hike on New York’s small businesses, should not be left up to un-elected, face-less bureaucrats. Capital Region residents deserve to have their say and their elected officials should be given the ability to vote up or down on any toll increase,” added Tedisco, who has long supported merging the Thruway Authority into the NYS Department of Transportation to rein in the out-of-control Authority and save tax dollars.
“We have worked diligently with Governor Cuomo to promote a strong economic development plan, re-opening New York for business and embracing our job creators. However, with so many rest stop plazas and commercial businesses like hotels and restaurants relying on capital from the trucking industry, there are many families and businesses whose economic viability would be in serious jeopardy should these toll hikes be implemented.
“We urge Chairman Milstein to not only hold a public meeting in the Capital District on the 45 percent toll hike but ask him to pause and think about what this toll hike would do to businesses across New York State as they continue to recover from the longest recession since the Great Depression.”
The toll hike is expected to net NYSTA $90 million in extra revenue annually. McLaughlin indicated that the need for such a staggering increase in funding suggests that the agency’s fiscal priorities may be out of order, and advocated exploring cost- saving measures rather than increasing the burden on families and businesses. Last week, McLaughlin urged a full forensic audit of NYSTA to explore potential areas for savings and consider merging the agency with the Department of Transportation if such a move is revealed to be efficient and effective.
In December, the Governor's Spending and Government Efficiency Commission recommended merging the Thruway Authority with the Bridge Authority and folding those administrative functions into the DOT.