Anthony Weiner: Bring back commuter tax

New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner attends

New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner attends a street fair in Brooklyn with his son Jordan. (June 16, 2013) (Credit: Steven Sunshine)

Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner said he'd fight to bring back the commuter tax, which Long Islanders and other suburbanites paid until it was abolished in 1999 -- a change that has cost the city billions of dollars since.

"It never should have been eliminated, and it should be reinstated, and the mayor should fight to have it reinstated," Weiner told reporters after a candidates' forum about transit issues.

Most of the other candidates at the event -- Republican Joe Lhota, Independence nominee Adolfo Carrion Jr. and Democrats Sal Albanese, John Liu and Bill Thompson -- said they would favor the tax but considered it politically unfeasible.

"I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge if you think that's gonna happen," said Albanese.

Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, and Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker, did not attend the forum, which was held in Manhattan at Baruch College. Their spokesmen said they supported the tax.

Weiner compared revival of the commuter tax to other seemingly impossible goals in the past that became realities: Mayoral control of the city schools, for instance.

"A lot of things that you confront when you're mayor are highly unlikely," Weiner said.

The tax, which has long had strong support in New York City and intense opposition in the metropolitan area suburbs, taxed 0.45 percent of the incomes of suburbanites who worked in the city.

Kevin Law, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association, the Island's largest business group, said reinstating the tax is "a terrible idea and should be discarded as a political posturing campaign gimmick."

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