Congestion Pricing is Gone…For Now

A Column from the Desk of Assemblyman Karl Brabenec (R,C-Deerpark)

Following a week of late-night debates and secret backroom deliberations by the Majority Party, the 2024 Legislative Session ended with a surprising but worthwhile note: the congestion pricing proposal championed by Governor Hochul, which would have charged substantial toll fees for commuters entering lower Manhattan, was put on ‘indefinite pause.’ This rare move by the governor, coming at the eleventh hour, has left the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) without a clear funding plan for the next year.

Initially promoted as an environmental and population-control measure, the proposal was revealed to be primarily a revenue-generating tactic. Both New York City representatives and the MTA admitted it aimed to generate funds from hardworking Hudson Valley commuters to support maintenance and revitalization projects.

I am thrilled that commuters from our area will no longer face exorbitant tolls just to get to work. The governor made the right decision in halting this plan.

However, this issue is not resolved. I foresee a future attempt to push this forward when the politicians are not in a risky election year. I strongly advise New York leadership, including the governor, to reconsider granting $1 billion to a department like the MTA, which has a history of mismanaging funds. Taxpayers should not be burdened with funding one of the largest state budgets (over $200 billion!). This year, the MTA should learn to operate within its means, as many New Yorkers are asked to do, rather than receiving an unwarranted payout.

Rumors suggest that the Assembly will be called back to Albany to vote on MTA funding, among other pending bills. Rest assured; I will continue to be your common-sense voice in Albany.