NYC Commuter Tax Gets a Chilly Reception

Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer says it could generate $725 million each year for regional mass transit but NJ Gov. Chris Christie says it would hurt the region's economy

The Manhattan borough president's proposal to bring back a tax for suburbanites who commute to work in New York City got a cold greeting Tuesday from officials who represent the suburbanites.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bashed the plan, saying it's "penny-wise and pound-foolish" and would hurt the region's economy.

Mark Hansen, spokesman for the New York State Senate's Republican majority, which would have a say in the plan, said it isn't under consideration. "We need to cut taxes, not increase them," he said.

The idea of restoring the tax was raised by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who told The New York Times that it could generate $725 million each year for regional mass transit.

His office made that estimate using a tax rate of .45 percent for most commuters. That's the same rate the tax was before New York lawmakers eliminated it in 1999. The tax had been in place for 33 years.

The idea is noteworthy in part because Stringer, a Democrat, is considered one of the leading candidates for mayor in the nation's largest city in the 2013 election.

Christie, a Republican who is on the national stage himself, noted that the current mayor is Michael Bloomberg, not Stringer.

"I'm sure we'll have conversations with Mayor Bloomberg and he'll understand that those types of border wars are things that we should attempt to avoid because it doesn't make any sense for New York's economy," Christie said at a news conference in Bedminster. "It doesn't make any sense for New Jersey's economy."

And it certainly would not please hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents who work in New York City, including Christie's wife, Mary Pat.

Christie may have a bully pulpit on the issue, but officials in New York's state government would have a say.

There was no immediate comment from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has opposed raising taxes.

The Democratic governor and the Senate's GOP majority, however, also opposed a millionaire's tax during the 2010 elections and in most of 2011 before agreeing to the proposal by the Assembly's Democratic majority.

That move to raise nearly $2 billion in taxes included a cut in the commuter tax to fund the New York City transit system.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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