De Blasio’s solution to fix subways? Tax, tax, tax

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On Sunday, Democratic New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office released a proposal to make repairs to the city subway. In order to pay for it, he proposes a huge tax hike​ on New Yorkers.

According to de Blasio press spokesman, Eric Phillips, the new tax would fund ​a “long-term fix​” for the city’s subway system. It includes funding for improvements to the subway signal system, track repairs and reduced fares for some New Yorkers.

​The tax would target the wealthy residents of New York, to the tune of nearly $800 million annually. The city’s tax rate on individuals making more than $500,000 a year, and married couples earning above $1 million, would rise from 3.876 percent to 4.41 percent, a .5 percent increase.

“Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra to help move our transit system into the 21st century,” de Blasio said in a statement.
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The city says $500 million of the anticipated revenue would pay for upgrades and repairs to the city subway and bus systems. Another $250 million would benefit the 800,000 residents living at or below the federal poverty level, in the form of half-priced MetroCards.

“The top 1 percent can afford to do a bit more—and should, because a transit system that works makes New York City’s economy strong and benefits us all,” declares a fact sheet Phillips released.

Mayor de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) disagree about who is responsible for the condition of the subway system. Gov. Cuomo recently announced a state of emergency and earmarked an additional $1 billion to fix the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs the city’s subway and bus systems and is overseen by the state.

The emergency declaration makes it easier for contractors to fix issues, while the $1 billion will be added to the MTA’s capital plan for infrastructure repairs. But Gov. Cuomo says the city itself needs to contribute more money to the state’s capital and operating budgets.

MTA Chairman, Joe Lhota, is happy that Mayor de Blasio has proposed the the tax hike. Reportedly, Lhota said the proposal is a reversal from de Blasio’s past statements, in which he said the MTA should use money that was already allocated by the city to to repairs.

“After saying the MTA doesn’t need money, we’re glad the mayor reversed himself,” Lhota said in​​ a statement.

Lhota said the MTA’s needs “short-term emergency financing.” and asked de Blasio to match the state’s cash outlay for the system.

“The mayor should partner with us and match the state funding now so we can turn the trains around,” Lhota said. “There’s no question we need a long-term funding stream, but emergency train repairs can’t wait on what the state legislature may or may not do next year.”

​According to reports, officials at the MTA learned about the tax proposal on the ​New York Times’s website, not through city hall.

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