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Congestion pricing in a roundabout
During the Metropolitan Transportation Authority meeting Wednesday, board member Scott Rechler suggested the MTA could take a vote to provide its support for a congestion pricing plan.
But it didn’t.
While the MTA took no formal action, board members voiced broad support for the notion of adding tolls, fees and policies that could reduce traffic and add funds for public transit improvements.
“The time has come in this state to have a congestion pricing application,” said board member Mitchell Pally of Suffolk County.
Board member Polly Trottenberg, the city’s Department of Transportation commissioner, noted that even Mayor Bill de Blasio has changed his tune a bit on congestion pricing.
“The mayor had expressed some skepticism, and has now expressed some openness,” Trottenberg noted.
But whether by vote or individual comment, the MTA doesn’t play a role in making congestion pricing a reality. That’s up to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature. But MTA Chairman Joe Lhota noted that the process is “complicated,” and that there’s much more to do before congestion pricing becomes a reality. And even Rechler expressed concern that congestion pricing wasn’t front and center on policy makers’ minds.
“There doesn’t really seem to be that same sense of urgency,” Rechler said.
That might mean very little happens in Albany on congestion pricing as the budget is hammered out in the next two weeks. Or perhaps, like de Blasio, state lawmakers could change their tune — and get something done.
Randi F. Marshall
Nixon's talking points
In her young campaign, Cynthia Nixon already has made liberal use of a striking statistic about New York: the state is the most unequal in the whole country. The top 1 percent earns 45 times more than the bottom 99.
This might not be surprising considering New York’s dime-a-dozen high earners, but it’s not a category voters might like their state to lead. Nixon used variants of the stat in her launch video on Monday and her announcement speech in Brownsville on Tuesday. It’s also on her website.
The stat comes from a 2016 report by the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute. The report was co-released by the New York-based liberal-leaning research group Fiscal Policy Institute, and FPI has some updated suggestions about how to combat inequality here. Suggestions include big moves like closing the carried interest loophole at the state level and adding new tax brackets for the state’s wealthiest residents.
Nixon’s opponent, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, is unlikely to support higher taxes in an election year, but he floated support for closing the carried interest loophole in January. Cuomo’s leftward drift on issues like that may force Nixon even farther left to draw big policy distinctions, though much of her platform is still to come.
Either way, expect the stat to keep popping up throughout the campaign.
Spring where are you?
It’s a small world after all
The Point made its way across the continent last week.
“Needless to say, I was quite taken aback yesterday to see a letter from 50 years ago! It was amazing,” emailed Jeffrey Schechtman five decades after he wrote a letter to Newsday at age 17 about his generation getting involved in politics. A Google alert he has set up with his name led him to Thursday’s newsletter that featured it.
Now 67 and the host of a radio show in Napa, California, Schechtman says he has no recollection of writing the letter but that it doesn’t surprise him since he has always been politically active. After graduating from Syosset High School, he went off to Yale University and studied political science. He then switched coasts for a career in the movie business before returning to political journalism 20 years ago to work at various radio stations in Northern California.
We used his letter as a #ThrowbackThursday call to teens today to write in to us. For his show, Schechtman recently interviewed a student who led her school’s walkout demanding more gun safety, and he thinks the surge in activism by young people spawned by the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, is fantastic.
“I’m a deep-seated pessimist about this country’s current state of affairs, but these students give me hope.”
He doesn’t come back to Long Island, except for the occasional business trip. Wednesday’s weather compared to Napa’s easily explains why.
“Those who say that in the digital world we can never escape our past are quite serious,” he said. “So odd to be immediately transported to growing up on LI fifty years ago.”