When I took office, I pledged that one of my top priorities would be the elimination of the toll on the Cross Bay Bridge. Hardworking families of Rockaway and Broad Channel have been burdened by the unfair toll for too long. In these tough economic times, we should be encouraging travel and commerce instead of charging another tax and forcing residents to pay a fee to go about their daily lives.
I applaud Governor Cuomo for including the residency rebate as part of his 2012 executive budget and I will urge my colleagues in the legislature to stand up for working families by supporting this proposal. The Governor has heard the calls of local residents who attended the many rallies, the thousands who have signed our petition and the hundreds who wrote letters in opposition to this onerous fee. The residency rebate program is a step in the right direction and a huge victory for residents of Broad Channel and Rockaway.
I made this issue a priority because I truly understand the unfair weight that the toll places on the backs of hardworking families in Broad Channel and Rockaway. We use the bridge to go to and from work, drop our children off at school, go to the post office or the doctor and many other day-to-day activities. The toll doesnít just hurt our families; it also damages the local economy and is detrimental to the growth and prosperity of our small businesses.
Together with my colleagues, community and civic leaders, we have been working diligently for the elimination of the toll. I sent a letter to MTA President Joseph Lhota, asking that the MTA reinstate the full residency discount. Shortly after, I sent Lhota a petition with 2,000 signatures in support of the tollís elimination. I want to thank Dan Tubridy for starting this fight over 30 years ago and community and District Leader Lew Simon who has been on the front lines at every turn.
While the Governorís proposal and eventual passage of the legislature is a huge victory for the residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel, the fight will not be complete until the toll is removed for every resident of Queens, permanently. I have proposed legislation (A.9000) that would finally put an end to this issue once and for all, so every resident of Queens could travel freely and local residents would no longer have to fear the toll being returned.
Thank you again for your partnership and I look forward to celebrating many more victories together!