NYC mayor: Tax the rich to fix the subway

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo agree that the Big Apple's subway system is deteriorating and in need of urgent fix.

The tax would hike the top income tax bracket from about 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent for married couples earning over $1 million and individuals earning over $500,000. "Instead of searching for a quick-fix that doesn't exist, or simply forking over more and more of our tax dollars every year, we have come up with a fair way to finance immediate and long-term transit improvement and to better hold the State accountable for the system's performance".

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

While Cuomo - who's thought to be considering a 2020 presidential bid - is seeking joint funding between the state and city for repairs, de Blasio has a different idea, as reported by The New York Times on Sunday.

"A millionaires' tax would require some New Yorkers to pay, but the status quo requires literally millions of New Yorkers to pay in the form of lost wages, missed work and days ruined by breakdowns and delays".

"The City should partner with us and match the State funding now so we can begin Chairman Lhota's overhaul plan immediately and move forward", Cuomo said in his statement.

In late July, new MTA chairman Joe Lhota released an emergency plan to fix New York City's subway system.

About 32,000 of the city's wealthiest residents would see their taxes rise, de Blasio said.

The new tax proposal could be a hard sell for de Blasio, the Times notes. Another $250 million would fund the half-price MetroCard program for low-income New Yorkers.

De Blasio on Sunday unveiled an election-year pitch to raise $800 million a year for mass transit by soaking the rich with a almost 14 percent tax increase on high-income Big Apple residents. The Metropolitan Transit Authority is run by the state, not the city. About 800,000 people in New York City who are at or below the federal poverty level - about $24,500 for a family of four - could qualify for half-price MetroCards, city officials said. The Mayor could pay for fair fares through the city general fund, however, and not wait through the long, laborious process of securing state legislative approval.

John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, was more receptive. "We can not ask New Yorkers to wait one year to start repairs".

This has become known as the Summer of Hell in NY because of widespread repairs, delays and overcrowding on Amtrak, commuter rails and the NY subway, which is 113 years old and handles 6 million riders each weekday.

  • Eleanor Harrison