RELEASE: Gottheimer, Gov. Murphy, Sen. Menendez Announce Lawsuit to Stop New York’s Congestion Tax

Gottheimer to MTA: “Why is it ok to give cancer to kids in NJ?.” Cash-grabbing $23/day Congestion Tax will cause truck traffic and cancer-causing pollution in North Jersey.

Jul 21, 2023
Press

Above: Gottheimer announcing a lawsuit to stop NY’s Congestion Tax.

FORT LEE, NJ — Today, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and state and local officials announced that New Jersey has officially filed a lawsuit to put a stop to New York’s and the MTA’s anti-environment, anti-commuter, and anti-business $23-a-day-Congestion Tax.

The lawsuit argues that the U.S. Department of Transportation violated the National Environmental Protection Act, which requires a full environmental impact review for projects like the Congestion Tax plan, as well as the Clean Air Act.

New York and the MTA admit in their reporting that the Congestion Tax will hurt the environment and increase air pollution:

  • More cars and trucks will be diverted to Northern New Jersey and the outer boroughs just outside of the tolling zone — hurting lower income families. 
  • There will be increases in traffic, pollutants, and mobile air toxins through 2045 in the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Bergen County (pages 10-21, 10-37, and 10-40). 
  • There will be increases in particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide in Bergen County, as well as carcinogens like formaldehyde (pages 10–26 through 10-34). 
  • It is reported that Bergen County could face countless more trucks to Fort Lee.
  • The MTA is prepared to spend $130 million from tolling to try to mitigate the Congestion Tax’s negative environmental impacts on families in the Bronx and parts of the outer boroughs. However, New Jersey will receive no funding as a part of the MTA’s plan.
  • The MTA’s proposed solutions include installing new air filtration units near schools, more vegetation, and spending $25 million on an asthma treatment program due to the Congestion Tax — an admission of environmental guilt. New Jersey will receive no funding as a part of the MTA’s plan.

Furthermore, according to the MTA’s own projections, if what they say is true and fewer cars go south of 60th Street, the Congestion Tax will leave a billion-dollar hole in lost revenue over the next decade at the Port Authority for their capital projects — meaning fewer jobs for hardworking men and women of labor and fewer infrastructure improvements here in Jersey.

“Today’s a huge day in the fight against New York’s commuter crushing $23/day Congestion Tax. If the MTA gets its way, trucks will be backed up here in North Jersey, billowing cancer-causing pollution into the lungs of our children. I want to thank our Governor for punching back at a state that decided to use Jersey as their piggy bank to solve their years of criminal mismanagement at the MTA,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I don’t know how the MTA Chairman looks at himself in the mirror. He should come to Fort Lee and look Mayor Sokolich in the eye and tell him why it’s okay to give cancer to the children here. I’ve been speaking with mayors from North Jersey in my district — and my bet is he can expect even more lawsuits. We just don’t take a punch in Jersey, we punch back.”

Gottheimer continued, “Four years ago, I sounded the alarm on what New York was planning. Now, we are all here together to get the backs of our hard-working Jersey families and commuters — and anyone in Jersey knows, if you screw with Jersey, buckle up, we aren’t backing down.

“After refusing to conduct a full environmental review of the MTA’s poorly designed tolling program, the FHWA has unlawfully fast-tracked the agency’s attempt to line its own coffers at the expense of New Jersey families,” said Governor Murphy. “The costs of standing idly by while the MTA uses New Jersey residents to help balance its budget sheets are more than economic. At the MTA’s own admission, its tolling program would divert traffic and shift pollution to many vulnerable New Jersey communities, impacting air quality while offering nothing to mitigate such considerable harm. Today we stand as a unified front against this reckless scheme and reaffirm our commitment to combat the unjust taxation of our hardworking residents by other states.”

“As the senior senator of New Jersey, I have made it abundantly clear that it’s unacceptable for New York to try balancing its budget on the backs of New Jersey commuters. Their proposed congestion tax scheme is nothing more than a shakedown and must be defeated,” said Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “Today, I am proud to stand with Governor Murphy, as well as other federal, state, and local leaders, as his administration takes legal actions to protect New Jerseyans who travel into New York every day for work.”

“The Garden State is not New York’s piggy bank. We are not the MTA’s ATM,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-9). “New Jersey has been our region’s pack mule for a long time. Enough is enough. Governor Murphy’s leadership is indispensable. New Jersey’s state and federal leaders are united in telling New York their scheme is more garbage than the old Staten Island landfill. I look forward to using every legal tool to give Garden Staters a fair shake.”

“The bill Governor Murphy is signing today will help thousands of New Jerseyans seek some relief when it comes to work that’s done right here in our state,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin. “The nature of work has changed, and our tax laws should change with it. The time is now as the Work-from-Home model is here to stay for employers and employees who so choose. I’m proud to stand with local, state and NJ congressional leaders on this important issue.”

“We’re not going to stop here. We have other tools in our toolbox that we’re going to continue to look at and we are going to implement as we proceed. As a lawyer, I love a good lawsuit, so I’m very happy that we’re fighting the feds and New York. If they had any brains, they would come to the table. They had plenty of time to do it. I think there is a fair compromise to be reached here. They are refusing to do so, and I hope this changes their minds,” Senator Joseph Lagana.

“I am pleased that Governor Murphy signed this bill to turn the tables in the fight against New York State’s harsh treatment of New Jersey taxpayers,” said Senator Jon Bramnick. “For too long, out-of-state politicians have taken advantage of employees who live here but work across state lines. This law is a much needed first step to end the current tax imbalance and put money back into the pockets of our residents.”

“This new law gives New Jersey workers the tools to fight back against New York City’s shameful congestion tax scheme. Our residents are being unfairly targeted, and this bill provides commuters with relief from burdensome New York taxes and congestion fees,” said Assemblyman Chris Tully. “This effort will also offer employers incentives to tap into New Jersey’s talented workforce, relocate, invest and grow their companies in our communities.”

“Our neighboring state, New York, has implemented a policy that creates a significant burden for New Jersey residents working for New York companies. It’s double taxation, and it’s not fair to New Jersey families. On top of that, New York’s proposed congestion pricing plan would cost daily commuters thousands of dollars a year just to get to work,” said Assemblywoman Lisa Swain. “This is unacceptable, and we need to level the playing field. With this law, we are fighting back.”

“With this law, we can offer relief to New Jersey residents who owe taxes to two states each year, and we can prevent crucial tax revenue from being redirected to other states like New York,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “This is money that could be spent investing in our communities, advancing our state’s infrastructure, and making New Jersey a better place to live for our residents.”

“The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce has been consistent in its long-time opposition to New York City’s congestion pricing plan – and we appreciate efforts by Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer and the state legislature to come to the aid of New Jersey commuters and residents who will be negatively impacted at a time of high inflation and other rising costs,” said Tom Bracken, President & CEO, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. “Congestion pricing also unfairly hurts New Jersey’s economy, especially small businesses, by taking money out of the hands of our hardworking residents that could otherwise be spent on goods and services here in the Garden State. The Chamber supports today’s bill signing because after years of unfair tax treatment towards New Jersey commuters, the state is recognizing the need to end the current tax imbalance by treating New York commuters who work in the Garden State similarly. Finally, we support NJEDA’s pilot program to incentivize New York businesses to assign New Jersey resident employees to locations within our state.”

“NJBIA thanks Governor Murphy, the sponsors, and supporters of this bill for attempting to bring much-needed tax fairness between New Jersey and New York,” said NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka. “As remote work arrangements have increased greatly since the pandemic, it is simply unfair for New York to be claiming income taxes from New Jersey-based workers. New Jersey should be seeing that money for its own fiscal benefit, especially considering there are a number of employees who have not commuted to New York for work for a span of years now. NJBIA agrees with the convenience of the employer test provision of this new law, which allows New Jersey to assess income taxes on non-New Jersey residents who are physically working in the Garden State, just as New York and other states have practiced. We also hope businesses take advantage of the pilot grant program to move their New Jersey employees to New Jersey work locations. The more people we have who live, work and play in our great state, the better for our economy. Lastly, we look forward to the incentives in this bill leading to court action which may be the only way to permanently and comprehensively correct this tax inequity.”

“New York’s Congestion Tax will prove one thing: it’s better to do business in New Jersey. It not only taxes hardworking New Jerseyans who commute to Manhattan, New Jersey’s businesses that serve Manhattan will face enormous cost increases when delivering goods and services that New York City relies on,” said Jim Kirkos, President and CEO of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce. “At a time when New York should be thinking about incentives to return to the city, they are doing the opposite. So, we have a message for them: New Jersey is open for business.”

Gottheimer was joined today in Fort Lee by Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, State Senator Joe Lagana, Senator Gordon Johnson, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, Assemblyman Chris Tully, Assemblywoman Haider, Assemblywoman Park, Assemblyman Wimberly, Senator Bramnick, Assemblyman Benson, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, Bergen County Commissioner Dr. Voss, the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, the NJ State Chamber of Commerce, and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

Watch today’s announcement here.

Below: Gottheimer announcing a lawsuit to stop NY’s Congestion Tax.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mayor, for welcoming us to Fort Lee. 

Governor Murphy, Senator Menendez, Congressman Pascrell, Speaker Coughlin, Senator Lagana, Senator Johnson, Assemblywoman Swain,Assemblyman Tully, Assemblywoman Park, Assemblywoman Haider, Senator Bramnick, Assemblyman Wimberly, Assemblyman Benson, and Commissioner Voss  — thank you for your leadership and for everything you do for Jersey. 

I want to applaud my North Jersey partners in the state legislature for getting signed into law bipartisan legislation to provide grants for businesses that move jobs to our state. I’m proud to have worked with them on this legislation to get more families and new businesses to Jersey. If New York keeps doing what they’re doing, including the Congestion Tax, they will drive more businesses and jobs across the GW bridge into our state, and we’re ready to welcome them. 

Today’s a huge day in the fight against New York’s commuter crushing Congestion Tax. If the MTA gets its way, less than a year from now, right near here at the GW bridge, hard-working Jersey families will be stuck with a new $23 dollar a day — $5,000 a year — Congestion Tax just to drive to work in New York City. That’s on top of the $17 dollars they pay a day already. It’s on top of parking, it’s on top of gas. It will cost the Port Authority nearly a billion dollars in investment for capital projects over the next decade — meaning fewer jobs for hardworking men and women of labor and fewer infrastructure improvements here in Jersey.

And because of the Congestion Tax, come next spring, trucks will be backed up here in North Jersey, as far as the eye can see, billowing cancer-causing pollution into the lungs of children in this community. Plumes of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, and even formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, into Northern New Jersey and the outer boroughs. 

Don’t take my word for it: ask the MTA. All of this is in black and white in the report the MTA submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation that decided to ignore their findings and rubber stamp their approval without an in-depth environmental review. A little odd for an Administration that claims to be committed to protecting the environment.

That’s what’s behind this powerful lawsuit, and I want to thank our Governor for punching back at a state that decided to use Jersey as their piggy bank to solve their years of criminal mismanagement at the MTA — the worst run mass transit system in the country. 

Governor, it’s great to see Jersey’s strength on full display today. We all always have your back in this fight — across our congressional delegation on both sides of the aisle, in Trenton, and even members of Congress in New York.  

Four years ago, I sounded the alarm on what New York was planning. Now, we are all here together to get the backs of our hard-working Jersey families and commuters — and anyone in Jersey knows, if you screw with Jersey, buckle up, we aren’t backing down. 

What’s particularly incredible, New York and the MTA don’t seem to care about the environmental damage the Congestion Tax will cause, or the massive new traffic at the bridge and at the two tunnels. 

And they clearly don’t care about the nurses, electricians, Uber drivers, and restaurant workers who will suddenly have to find an extra $5,000 dollars-a-year to pay to get to work. These people will have to work an entire extra day a week to pay for the $23-a-day Congestion Tax. 

For the MTA, it’s just a cash grab. They have a $3 billion dollar budget deficit caused by their woeful mismanagement — they lost $700 million dollars last year to fare skipper — so they need Jersey to pour our hard-earned dollars into their bottomless pit. 

Not a nickel will go to Jersey to invest in our mass transit. Not a nickel to address the environmental and health impacts from the Congestion Tax. And MTA Chairman Janno Lieber knows the harm it will cause. To mitigate the effects of the cancer-causing pollution, he’s giving the Bronx $130 million dollars for air filtration units near schools and an asthma treatment program. Not a penny to Jersey.

I don’t know how MTA Chairman Janno Lieber looks at himself in the mirror. 

The MTA Chairman should come to Fort Lee and look Mayor Sokolich in the eye and tell him why it’s okay to give cancer to the children here.

I’ve been speaking with mayors from North Jersey in my district — and my bet is he can expect even more lawsuits. 

That’s on top of the bipartisan legislation I’ve introduced to defund the MTA.

Now, just this week, the MTA met in New York to discuss how badly they’re planning to stick it to New Jersey — without any input from us. 

My recommendation to them: don’t blow a hundred years of cooperation together with the Port Authority. Do the right thing: clean up the MTA and find another way with New York’s $229 billion-dollar annual budget to pay your own bills. Don’t make that hard-working nurse who has an overnight shift in your hospital pick up the tab. 

I’ll tell you this: we won’t stop fighting. We just don’t take a punch here in Jersey, we punch back — that’s what this lawsuit does. This is about our hard-working families and the air they breathe. 

That’s how I know here in the greatest state, in the greatest country, our best days will always be ahead of us. 

Thank you, and may God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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