NY Dems sweating "extinction-level events" if Gov Hochul's budget proposals go through

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Talk about a twofer: doubling down on disaster and getting what entrenched liberals outvoted the saner citizens for.

When New York State’s Governor Kathy Hochul presented her budget on 1 Feb of this year, most of the attention was immediately captured by the pie-in-the-sky Green/renewable mandates it contained (previewed when I posted on her State of the State.) The proposals are so out of touch with the reality of NY state’s weather extremes, especially living anywhere outside the five boroughs of the city, that they’d be laughable if she and the Green lobby loons working them up weren’t deadly serious about imposing them.


A few weeks have passed since the hubbub over those flashier items, the nuts and bolts of budget staples are coming into focus, and Democrats outside the city do not like what they’re reading.

The first item experiencing real pushback is her housing plan. She wants to see 800K new units built across the state. The problem?

If the community doesn’t like what the state dictates as far as what housing where, and balks, a newly formed state board steps in and overrides the local authority.

…Already, local officials in Westchester County, the Hudson Valley and on Long Island are organizing against the central plank of the Democrat’s newly unveiled plan that would set housing production targets for every city, town or village in the state. If a municipality misses the mark, the state could step in and approve new housing development, Hochul said.

Suburban leaders have proved themselves formidable foes; last year they led an organized, sustained public pressure campaign to force Hochul to retreat on a prior proposal that would have allowed single-family homeowners to legally rent out apartments in their attic, basement or garage, regardless of local zoning.


Why Liberals Hate People in the Suburbs, Chapter 957: They get so mad and unreasonable when you try to push them around for their own good and they don’t need that backyard anyway.

The second proposal that really has blood boiling concerns the Metropolitan Transportation Authority or MTA. That’s the public transportation behemoth that runs the buses, commuter line trains, subways, and ferries running into the city. And make no mistake, that’s what it’s predominantly for – transportation in, out, and around New York City for workers, tourists, and the like. If a train goes from one stop in a smaller town to another beyond the confines of the boroughs, it’s only because they are both on its route to the city.

From the beginning of the pandemic, the MTA has suffered a ridership problem of epic proportions. Since the advent of consecutive, soft-on-crime mayors de Blasio and Adams, even with some employers beginning to encourage back-to-the-office, ridership of any of their offerings has not recovered by any significant measure.

Screencap MTA.info
Screencap MTA.info

I’ve highlighted the pandemic year of 2020 with a pink dot and, as you can clearly see, 2021 is barely off those lows, less mind anywhere near their 2016 ridership numbers.

A good portion of the explanation is that the city is, for all intents and purposes, dead. To illustrate just how empty, my little brother took this picture at 7 a.m. on a Thursday morning only 3 weeks ago.


It’s Park Avenue. One of the world’s premiere boulevards on a weekday morning.

You have to squint to see a soul – it looks like a movie set before anyone in the cast or crew shows up. It used to be bustling with vehicles and was normally filled with people aplenty, even at that early hour.

Dead and seemingly more dangerous.

Screencap NBC4

…Despite the vast majority of the nearly 500 subway stations, and thousands of trains, remaining crime-free most days, riders say that with everything that has gone down, their vigilance is up. Way up.

“Always keep an eye out, second guess who’s on this train with you and sitting in the back,” said subway rider Felix Prabhaker.

MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said that feeling is a formidable obstacle for the transit agency to overcome.

The Bloomberg estimate of 60% below is optimistic and only reflective of bus ridership. MTA themselves say the subways have only recovered to 45% of previous traffic as of 2021.

Hochul’s announced plan to make up the MTA’s yawning gap has Dem representatives from the city’s outlying counties reeling.

…The MTA faces a $600 million budget gap this year that’s projected to grow to about $3 billion in 2025 as federal pandemic aid runs out. While system wide ridership has come back steadily to about 60% of 2019 levels, the agency estimates that by the end of 2026 it will reach only 80% of pre-pandemic usage.

The governor wants to alleviate the shortfall by increasing the MTA payroll tax, which is applied to all New York City and suburban employers and self-employed people downstate.


…Hochul’s plan – part of her $227 billion executive budget proposal unveiled Feb. 1 – would increase the top payroll tax to 0.50% from 0.34% on employers and self-employed individuals in New York City and seven suburban counties served by MTA trains and buses. The increase is projected to generate $800 million per year starting July 1.

Hochul also wants to increase the rate imposed on the net earnings of a self-employed business owner to 0.42% for tax year 2023 and to 0.50% beginning in tax year 2024.

The burden is falling on suburban employers and business people who get little to no benefit directly from paying for a subway or bus that doesn’t exist in their counties.

…“Given the existing value gap outside the city (e.g. there are no subways and few MTA-operated buses) and the very fact that businesses in the city are the primary business beneficiaries of the system – riders take the MTA to get to work in New York City; riders generally do not take the MTA to get to work outside New York City – exempting non-New York City from the increase associated with this already-unjust tax is the appropriate response,” the letter reads.

The lawmakers further complained the “vast majority of revenue” from the tax hike proposal would be pumped into New York City Transit, which runs the subway and bus lines — rather than the suburban-focused Long Island Railroad and Metro-North.

The inequities have the western counties squawking.

…Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson (D-Poughkeepsie), whose district is largely west of the Hudson River, said Hochul’s proposed tax increase hardly makes sense given that Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Putnam counties have to share a single vote on the 23-member board.

“I think it sends the wrong message to the business community. I also think that we’re not getting what we deserve,” he said of the governor’s plan. “And it’s really another problem of taxation without representation. I mean, we only have got a quarter vote [on the MTA Board], and it’s not right.”


In Long Island, where the Democratic contingent barely held on to their seats in the last election, they are warning of a major revolt among the citizenry.

…Speaking on the possible impact on Democrats in Long Island, Democratic Assemblymember Fred Thiele of Sag Habor called both proposals: “extinction-level events” in comments to Newsday.

Her bailout for the MTA also includes a $300M one time cash dump, no expectation that the authority will institute any more cost-saving measures or efficiencies than they’re already promised to look into attempting, and that, additionally, the bulk of a projected $1.5B windfall from the sale of 3 new casino licenses will be directed to the MTA. CHA-ching.

She can sure throw other people’s money around with no expectation of any return on investment.

The governor certainly has her priorities.

…Hochul said caring for new migrants and the solvency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs subways and other public transit in the downstate region, are among the most pressing issues facing the state.

It sure doesn’t sound as if keeping people in New York state is any part of her proposals or long-term planning. There isn’t a single thing here that would appeal to someone balancing on the edge of “Do I stay or do I go?”

When a state is hemorrhaging taxpayers at the rate NY is?

You’d think somewhere, somehow there’d be a carrot to keep them, not just another stick to beat them.


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