Above: Gottheimer, Lagana, Tully, Swain, and Paramus Council President Tedesco in Paramus today.
NORTH JERSEY — Today, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), along with NJ State Senator Joe Lagana (LD-38), Assemblyman Chris Tully (LD-38), and Assemblywoman Lisa Swain (LD-38), proposed new state legislation to fight back against New York’s congestion tax scheme targeting hard-working New Jersey families and daily commuters with a new $3,000-per-year daily fee when entering into Midtown Manhattan.
If New York moves forward with its congestion tax, new legislation will be introduced in both the NJ State Senate and State Assembly to add the New Jersey state sales tax only for out-of-state drivers to every toll at every crossing from New Jersey into New York. Every sales tax dollar collected will go to a new Congestion Tax Relief Fund to help New Jersey commuters who will get whacked by New York’s congestion tax scheme. New Jersey commuters will get a credit from the new fund to help cover congestion fee costs.
Gottheimer also announced today that he will be formally advising U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg of New Jersey’s plan and, again, urging USDOT to pause approvals for New York’s congestion tax scheme.
“Once again, I think New York thinks Jersey is their ATM machine,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) today. “Yes, New York City is struggling financially, just like our state and communities are too. Now, they want to throw out a hundred years of transit cooperation through the Port Authority, and fix their woes by whacking New Jersey families with a new Manhattan Moocher Congestion Tax.”
“New Jersey has enjoyed a strong relationship with New York for years,” said NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “But congestion pricing runs completely counter to our record of working together. Congressman Gottheimer and Senator Lagana are looking out for the needs, and the wallets, of their constituents with this proposal. We will take any action needed to fight the double standard being imposed on our residents by this unfair policy.”
“Commuters from North Jersey are being singled out by New York City’s congestion pricing plans,” said NJ Senator Joseph Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Unfairly double taxing just our residents is not the answer to their congestion issues and unfortunately requires a response. If fully implemented, New Jersey must counter by reimbursing money we pay out to this scheme through a fund established at the expense of out of state drivers traveling in the Garden State from New York.”
“Congestion pricing is a slap in the face to North Jerseyans who commute into the city and already contribute plenty through income taxes, tolls and their patronage at local businesses,” said Assemblyman Chris Tully (D-Bergen/Passaic). “In this midst of a pandemic it is outrageous to ask New Jersey residents looking to work and feed their families to bailout New York City’s problems.”
“I first took a stand against congestion pricing double standards two years ago when I introduced a resolution opposing the plan and, like any New Jerseyan who is in the right, I won’t be backing down,” said Assemblywoman Lisa Swain (D Bergen/Passaic). “The fact that many families are struggling as a result of the pandemic makes this an even more offensive time to hit working people from this area with another tax.”
Watch the announcement here.
Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
We’re here today in Paramus — in Northern New Jersey, just feet from Route 17 — where we have an incredibly bright, diverse, and hard-working workforce — many of whom, in normal times, would be commuting on the road right behind me to Manhattan every day for work.
They drive in, over the George Washington Bridge, or in the Holland or Lincoln Tunnel, to support their families and they help boost a 100-million-dollar-a-day regional economy, including 8% percent of our nation’s GDP. They are nurses headed into the city for a night shift or taxi cab drivers ready for their first pick up. They’re coming from here in Bergen, or up in Sussex Warren, or Passaic Counties. Because of the limited mass transit options, they have no other choice but to hop in their car for the commute.
Even though New York City is beginning to safely reopen, with a city doing its best to get workers back to the office, and get back on its feet, just like so many struggling Americans are, New York is doing the unthinkable: it’s attempting to implement a new, regressive, $3,000 a year congestion tax on hard-working New Jersey commuters.
Yes, New York isn’t satisfied with its share of the $4,000 a year it gets from New Jersey residents who go over the GW Bridge — $4,000 a year in tolls — or the other crossings every day. Or, the $14 billion the MTA just received to help them through COVID-19. They want more, and they think we’re their ATM here in New Jersey – and they want it from us. Yes, New York City is struggling financially, just like our state and communities are. And now they want to throw out a hundred years of transit cooperation through the Port Authority – and fix their woes by whacking New Jersey families with a new congestion tax. Or, as I like to call it, the Manhattan Moocher Congestion Tax – because they are trying to mooch off of us.
Well, Mayor DeBlasio, Governor Cuomo, here’s our answer to your outrageous, aggressive, and punitive $3,000 a year congestion tax.
Today, we’re announcing that there is new state legislation in the works. If New York goes ahead with its congestion tax, and adds a new $3,000 a year tax to Jersey commuters, we will be forced to add a new fee to every toll for all non-New Jersey residents at every crossing from New Jersey into New York. It will only be applied to tolls for out-of-state drivers. New Jersey drivers will be exempt — after all, enough’s enough. Every dollar that’s collected will go to a new Congestion Tax Relief Fund to help Jersey commuters who are getting whacked by New York’s $3,000 a year new congestion tax. This fund will help Jersey’s hard-working families cover this new absurd Manhattan Moocher congestion tax.
In short, if New York is going to attack our wallets, we’re going to give them a taste of their own medicine. We’ll fight fire with fire.
I want to thank the legislative leaders of this effort – New Jersey State Senator Lagana and Assemblyman Tully and Swain. I appreciate how rational they’re willing to be. If New York wants to do the right thing, and back off, and not go after Jersey commuters, I understand that they won’t go ahead with their legislation. I’ll be sending a letter to the Secretary of Transportation advising him on New Jersey’s plan, and, again, urging him to put the brakes on this regressive congestion tax.
Just last month, Congressman Bill Pascrell and I asked the Secretary to hit pause on any approvals and commit to a comprehensive review of the effects that this new congestion tax will have on Jersey’s commuters.
To put this in perspective for you: every day, 276,000 cars and trucks go over the GW Bridge. 112,000 through the Lincoln. 100,000 through the Holland. 202,000 over the Verrazzano Bridge, 41,000 over the Outerbridge Crossing, 44,000 over the Goethals Bridge, and 10,000 over the Bayonne Bridge. The average toll is around $16 for cars; more than a hundred for trucks. Again, if you’re from New Jersey, you’re not going to feel the effects here — we’re going to help you fight back. And if you’re not, we’re obviously going to help you do right by New Jersey drivers. It’s easy to stop this; all that has to happen is for the Governor and the Mayor to do the right thing – and not go after New Jersey drivers.
Two other small points: With families struggling, is this the best way to get families back to their shows and restaurants or go see the Knicks or Rangers at Madison Square Garden? With Zoom and remote work, does New York City think this is the best way to attract daily commuters back to their office buildings? New Jersey commutes already spend $4,000 a year to go over the George Washington Bridge.
You want to hit them with another $3,000 —that’s your best way to attract them back in? On top of that? It’s a double tax.
Second, the Port Authority was established between New Jersey and New York in 1921 as an interstate partnership to help oversee a complex system of bridges, tunnels, highways, subways, and of course, ports. As has always been the case, our two states share toll revenues and look out for each other. This proposed congestion tax is just the opposite of that cooperative spirit.
These dollars collected through the congestion tax will only go to New York City, and most of it to the MTA to help fix their subways. Not a cent will go back to the PATH or NJ Transit to actually help our state in any way. Not very cooperative. Not exactly what I would call a cooperative spirit. Once again, I think New York thinks Jersey is their ATM machine.
New York will be using our families’ hard-earned dollars to refurbish their own subway — the very same MTA, mind you, that gets $1.5 billion every year from the federal government.
So, frankly, I’m hoping that New York comes to its senses, does the right thing, and we can sit down together and solve this problem the way we should. And I’m hoping that this new New Jersey state plan we’re announcing today never even has to be used. When we work together, New Jersey and New York, there’s nothing that can stop us. Nothing. Look at yesterday’s sports teams — we had an incredible day. We are a tough combination to beat. But Governor, Mayor, don’t think for one second, we won’t protect our own.
For Northern New Jersey families, for our entire state, if you go forward, we will have no other choice but to dig in and fight back, Jersey style.
Thank you again and may God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.