RELEASE: Gottheimer Highlights Impacts of MTA’s Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax

Dec 09, 2022
Press

TEANECK, NJ

MTA Chair Janno ‘Scrooge’ Lieber to Make Travel to NYC Too Expensive for Families’ Holiday Season and Commutes to Work

Announces New Federal Legislation to Defund MTA in Government Funding Package

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Above: Gottheimer putting coal in MTA CEO and Chair Janno ‘Scrooge’ Lieber’s Christmas stocking for moving ahead with the Congestion Tax.

Today, December 9, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined with local elected officials in front of Teanack’s Christmas tree to highlight the terrible coming impact that the MTA’s Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax would have on families visiting Manhattan for the holidays and commutes to work. Their absurd Congestion Tax plan will whack drivers with a $23-a-day tax — $5,000-a year — to drive into New York City and south of 60th street — all of it going to the MTA.

If MTA CEO and Chairman Janno “Scrooge” Lieber continues to move ahead with the MTA’s Congestion Tax, it won’t be affordable for North Jersey families to drive into Manhattan during the holiday season. Families won’t be able to take a photo with loved ones in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, walk past Macy’s storefront windows, skate in Central Park, or watch the holiday displays on Fifth Avenue.

Impacts of MTA’s $23/day Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax on local families visiting NYC for the holidays include:

  • $23 more for your $6 hot chocolate — a 383% increase.
  • It costs $10 to take your child ice skating in Central Park — the MTA’s Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax is more than double that: at $23 — a 230% increase for each child just to go ice skating.
  • $23 added to your $100 Radio City Christmas Spectacular ticket to see the Rockettes — a 23% increase.

Today, Gottheimer announced that he plans to introduce new legislation to stop federal dollars in the upcoming government funding package from going to the MTA if they move ahead with their Congestion Tax plan. Gottheimer is also calling on the leaders of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations to cut off the MTA’s federal dollars until they address their woeful mismanagement and corruption.

“With their proposed $23-dollar-a-day looming Congestion Tax, it’s almost as if the MTA wants to rob families of those Christmas memories. If MTA CEO and Chairman Janno ‘Scrooge’ Lieber has his way, and moves ahead with their Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax, it simply won’t be affordable for our families to drive into Manhattan and see the Christmas tree or visit the ice-skating rink. It’s as if he is trying to be the Scrooge in our Christmas Carol story. Well, I say bah humbug!” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I hope Scrooge Lieber is visited by his Ghost of Christmas future soon, before it’s too late for redemption. I’m announcing today a Christmas present for the cash-grabbing MTA, as part of my fight for Jersey and New York drivers. Next week, I’ll be introducing new legislation to stop federal dollars in the upcoming government funding package from going to the MTA if they move ahead with their Congestion Tax plan.”

Gottheimer was joined today in Teaneck by NJ State Senator Gordon Johnson, NJ Assemblywoman Shama Haider, Teaneck Councilmembers Keith Kaplan, Michael Pagan, Karen Orgen, and Teaneck Town Manager Dean Kazinsky.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Below: Gottheimer in Teaneck to highlight the coming effects of the MTA’s Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax.

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Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning! I hope everyone’s enjoying the holiday season, and getting ready for Hanukkah and Christmas. It’s great to be back in Teaneck in front of the township’s beautiful Christmas tree during one of my favorite times of the year. I know that all year long so many of our families look forward to seeing the bright lights and decorations around town and taking a drive into New York City with the family to see all it has to offer during this season.

We all have that shared memory of taking a photo with loved ones in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, walking past Macy’s store front windows, or huddling together with hot chocolate while you watch the light show on Fifth Avenue.

With their proposed $23-dollar-a-day looming Congestion Tax, it’s almost as if the MTA wants to rob families of those Christmas memories. If MTA CEO and Chairman Janno “Scrooge” Lieber has his way, and moves ahead with their Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax, it simply won’t be affordable for our families to drive into Manhattan and see the Christmas Tree or visit the ice-skating rink.

It’s as if he is trying to be the Scrooge in our Christmas Carol story. Well I say Bah humbug!

What would Christmas time be like without visiting the city with loved ones?

Imagine the added cost Scrooge Lieber and the MTA’s $23 dollar Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax will add to a family’s day trip to New York City during the holiday season – and I’m not even including the parking, gas, and $16 dollar toll over the bridge or through the tunnel!

That’s $23 dollars more for your $6 dollar hot chocolate — a 383 percent increase — as if the hot chocolate wasn’t enough!

It costs $10 dollars to take your child ice skating in Central Park — the MTA’s Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax is more than double that: at $23 dollars. That’s a 230 percent increase for each child just to go ice skating.

That’s $23 dollars added to your $100-dollar Radio City Christmas Spectacular ticket to see the Rockettes — a 23 percent increase.

Now, imagine if you’re a daily Jersey commuter. Can you imagine a hard-working nurse or taxi driver from Jersey having to pay $5,000 a year on top of the $16 dollars they pay to go over the GW Bridge? When you add gas and parking, that’s $20,000 a year. And every single nickel of this will go to the MTA to help cover their years of mismanagement and corruption. The MTA’s own studies that they submitted to the Department of Transportation show that their congestion plan won’t actually decrease traffic or reduce pollution. Their plan will cause traffic delays near the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and at the GW Bridge and Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. It will send trucks into northern New Jersey and into the outer boroughs. Children in Bergen County near the George Washington Bridge, and in the Bronx will face an increase of air pollutants and toxins.

So, why is the MTA doing this? It’s just a giant cash grab for the MTA and they are using Jersey families as their piggy bank.

And it’s not just us here in Jersey who are against the MTA’s Congestion Tax. There has been an outcry of opposition in New York — from taxies, Uber, Lyft; small businesses south of 60th street that will get whacked, and so many hard-working families. Members of Congress from New York, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, NFIB New York which fights for small businesses, and many more. They are all rightly concerned about what this insane tax will do to New York City’s economy and to small businesses and stores — during the holidays and year-round.

Despite receiving a surge of federal COVID dollars, to the tune of $15 billion, their woeful mismanagement and lax enforcement of fare collection has led to a $2.5 billion budget deficit at the MTA. The MTA also receives more than $2 billion annually from the federal government.

What did they do with those billions of taxpayer dollars — the $15 billion in COVID relief and the $2 billion each year? They seem to have blown it, as if they were on an all-night bender.

It’s unbelievable how badly run the MTA is. In just the first three months of this year, they lost $119 million to fare evasion, heading toward a $500 million total loss for this year. These are self-inflicted losses that have nothing to do with the pandemic.

To make matters worse, recent reporting indicates that the mismanaged MTA may be underestimating its losses by billions of dollars.

A report from the New York State Comptroller predicts the MTA could have a $4.6 billion dollar operating deficit by 2026. That’s billion with a B.

Not to mention, not too long ago, a former MTA manager pleaded guilty to obstructing an investigation into bid rigging and fraud. This is just one of countless investigations and issues at the MTA.

Another MTA manager was sentenced to forty-six months in prison for soliciting and accepting bribes from contractors.

Some of these violations are outright shocking, including employees crashing and abandoning a boat, sleeping on the job, procuring a charger for a personal Tesla vehicle, and vendors operating as in-house consultants.

Just this year, the MTA’s highest paid employee was sentenced for what the judge described as an “orgy of overtime fraud” as part of a ring that stole more than a million dollars from taxpayers.

When you add it all up – the mismanagement, his new plan to raise MTA fares, to his proposed Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax, Scrooge Lieber is definitely on Santa’s naughty list this year. I know it’s still a little early, but we brought some coal today for Scrooge Lieber’s Christmas stocking.

I hope Scrooge Lieber is visited by his Ghost of Christmas future soon, before it’s too late for redemption.

I’m also announcing today one other Christmas present for the cash-grabbing MTA, as part of my fight for Jersey and New York drivers who will soon face the MTA’s cash-grabbing, Christmas-Crushing Congestion Tax.

Next week, I’ll be introducing new legislation to stop federal dollars in the upcoming government funding package from going to the MTA if they move ahead with their Congestion Tax plan. It’s time we see how the MTA likes having money taken away from them – like they are trying to do to families this holiday season! If they want to defund our hard-working families’ wallets, then let’s give them a taste of their own medicine.

I’m also calling on the leaders of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations to cut off the MTA’s federal dollars until they address their woeful mismanagement and corruption.

The MTA is a bureaucratic, mismanaged swamp. The last thing that a terribly mismanaged government authority needs — one that’s faced indictments for fraud and is riddled with investigations — is more of our money.

Just read MTA spelled backwards and it tells you exactly how the MTA looks at New Jersey right now: as their personal ATM.

Just remember, every nickel of the new Congestion Tax imposed on hard-working Jersey families, from nurses to taxi drivers to hospital patients, will go to the MTA. Not a cent will go back to the PATH train or NJ Transit to actually help our state in any way.

For those who say, why not just take public transit? — the answer is simple: unfortunately, for many people who live in North Jersey and the outer boroughs, there just aren’t mass transit options.

For far too many towns in northern Jersey, it’s a mass transit desert. And for the naysayers, I’m happy to take you on a tour of Jersey and show you first-hand.

So… are we really going to let the corrupt MTA and their Grinch CEO Janno Lieber steal Christmas? Here in Jersey, we’re ready for a fight.

Thank you all for joining me, happy holidays, merry Christmas, and happy Hanukkah, and may God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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