Lawmakers want MTA tax repealed for colleges

Assemblyman Joseph Saladino, left, along with Assemblyman Steve

Assemblyman Joseph Saladino, left, along with Assemblyman Steve Englebright, second from left, speak during a press conference at Suffolk Community college where he called on Albany to exempt Community Colleges from the MTA patroll tax. (August 7, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara)

State lawmakers from Long Island on Tuesday announced legislation to exempt community colleges in Nassau and Suffolk from paying the MTA's payroll tax.

At a morning news conference at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, Assemb. Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa), who drafted the bill, said it would save each of Long Island's two community colleges about $400,000 a year in the MTA Payroll Mobility Tax.

Saladino planned to hold a second news conference later Tuesday at Nassau Community College.

The tax was created in 2009 as part of a $2.3-billion state bailout of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as it faced a record deficit. The tax charges employers in the MTA service region 34 cents for every $100 of payroll.

It was later amended to exclude public school districts and some small businesses. Saladino, who was joined by co-sponsor Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket), said community colleges shouldn't have to pay the unpopular tax either, especially while the MTA continues what he said is wasteful spending practices.

"For far too long the MTA has used taxpayers, businesses, school districts and our community colleges as an ATM," said Saladino, who added that the tax money could be used to hold down student tuition.

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