New York State Senators Greg Ball (R, C- Patterson) and Lee Zeldin (R-C, I-Shirley) presented their plan to phase-out the Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax Wednesday in Yorktown.
“We’re in the midst of one of the worst economies we’ve had since the great depression and it is absolutely insane to think that we can dig our way out of this problem and out of this economy by taxing jobs that were already hemorrhaging,” Ball said.
The bill, described by Ball as landmark, would eliminate the tax in Westchester and surrounding counties outside of New York City completely by 2014. In the phase-out plan business with 25 or less employees, as well as public and non-public schools, would no longer pay the tax as of January 1, 2012. For the seven counties outside of New York CIty, the tax would be phased out by the end of 2013, and for the five counties that comprise New York City, the tax would be down to .21 by 2014.
“We are willing to,if the need comes some point in the future, revisit revenue options to allow the MTA to balance their books, but we want to see the MTA do more protecting our tax dollars,” Zeldin said.
According to Zeldin, the savings for Westchester as a result of the bill would be $29.1 million in 2012, $60 million in 2013 and $90.9 million by 2014. Those numbers were all presented as savings during the phase out—Zeldin said more would be saved once the tax was completely repealed.
“The MTA PR machines are already out there working hard. They’re trying to say that the only way they’ll be able to deal with this legislation is by drastically increasing fares dramatically cutting services—that is just not true,” he said.
A full and detailed list of suggestions were made about how the MTA can balance its books without the taxes. There has also been support for a top-down forensic audit of the MTA which would find more ways for the MTA to eliminate costs in other areas. Within the list of suggestions was to reduce the cash and investment float of the MTA, which Zeldin said is in the billions, and to see some of the MTA’s capital assets which are valued at over $50 billion.
“The MTA has the ability to do more with less,” Zeldin said. “Right now the state and local government is tightening its belt. Business, families, right here in Westchester County are doing the same thing to tighten their belts. The MTA needs to do the same.”
State Assemblyman Steve Katz (R, I-Yorktown) voiced his support for the bill, explaining this issue is a bipartisan effort.
“I firmly believe this does represent the future for us. This is the salvation that we’ve been looking for, Katz said”
Vincent Tamagna, Chairman of the Putnam County Legislature, spoke in support of the top-down forensic audit, and said the repeal would had to be done.
“At the end of the day we need to hold them accountable,” he said. “We deserve better than this we have to promote business and we have to stop with the taxation.”