RELEASE: Gottheimer, Malliotakis Announce Bipartisan Action to Fight NY’s Congestion Tax — Call for Audit of MTA, Unclear How Billions They Received in Federal Funding Were Spent

Aug 15, 2022
Press

Call for Audit of MTA, Unclear How Billions They Received in Federal Funding Were Spent

Gottheimer Calls on E-ZPass to Cease & Desist Congestion Tax Propaganda Email Campaign

Above: Gottheimer calling for a full audit of the MTA in response to the new Congestion Tax. 

New York, NY — Today, August 15, 2022, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) joined in a bipartisan effort to stand up for hardworking New Jersey and New York drivers who will soon face the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) cash grabbing Congestion Tax. New York and the MTA’s Congestion Tax could go into effect as early as 2023. The Congestion Tax would cost Jersey and New York drivers up to $23 dollars a day — more than $5,000 a year — on top of the already far-too-high $16-a-day tolls for our bridges and tunnels, to drive south of 60th Street to work in New York City from Jersey. No revenue from the Congestion Tax goes to support New Jersey, unlike the shared Port Authority tolls. 

Last week, the MTA released a Congestion Tax report which showed that every scenario will whack drivers with a new tax.

Today, Gottheimer and Malliotakis announced that they plan to introduce new bipartisan legislation requiring the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General to conduct a full audit of the MTA to see exactly where the billions of federal dollars they received over the last years have gone, including during COVID. The MTA receives millions a year plus the record-setting, $15 billion in federal COVID aid.

“If the report the MTA released proved anything, it’s that the bureaucratic and woefully mismanaged agency sees the hardworking Jersey and New York residents as their piggy bank. Every Congestion Tax scenario the MTA released last week will whack drivers with a new tax. It’s why I brought this piggy bank as a gift for the MTA. We will fight to make sure that this is the only dollar the MTA ever gets from their Congestion Tax,” said Congressman Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Can you imagine a hard working nurse or Uber driver from Jersey having to pay $23 dollars a day on top of the $16 dollars they pay to go over the GW Bridge – not to mention what it costs for parking and gas? Just read MTA spelled backwards and it tells you exactly how the MTA looks at New Jersey right now: as their personal ATM. It’s time we audited the MTA that keeps pouring the dollars we’ve sent them into a black hole.”

“The fact that the City, State, and MTA are proposing a congestion tax to make up for lost revenue after they’ve received billions in federal assistance and opportunities to apply for matching grants through the federal infrastructure bill is absurd and goes to show how mismanaged the authority is,” said Congresswoman Malliotakis (NY-11). “Go after toll evaders, turnstile jumpers, and make New York City’s transit safe so more residents and tourists ride, but stop treating New Yorkers and American taxpayers like ATMs. The MTA is a notorious blackhole and the Inspector General should audit every federal dollar the MTA has received. Enough is enough.”

Gottheimer also called on E-ZPass, the multi-state toll consortium, to immediately cease and desist its Soviet-era disinformation propaganda email campaign they are allowing MTA to propagate. MTA has sent blast emails lying about the Congestion Tax to millions of E-ZPass holders — raving about how great the fees will be for those commuting south of 60th street, but conveniently leaving out the cost of the Congestion Tax, how it will kill small business in the City, and likely make traffic horrifically worse north of 60th Street and at the bridges and tunnels commuters take to enter the City. This is an egregious misuse of personal email addresses and taxpayer resources.

Gottheimer and Malliotakis encouraged those who oppose the Congestion Tax to submit comments to the MTA and let their voices be heard at virtual public hearings starting on August 25th. Comments can be emailed to CBDTP@mtabt.orgor submitted at mta-nyc.custhelp.com/app/cbd_tolling. The schedule of virtual public hearings can be found at https://new.mta.info/project/CBDTP.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning. It’s great to be here in New York. Of course, I’d rather be in Jersey right now, but we had to come to the home of the absurd Congestion Tax idea. 

If the report the MTA released proved anything, it’s that the bureaucratic and woefully mismanaged agency sees the hardworking Jersey and New York residents as their piggy bank. 

Every Congestion Tax scenario the MTA released last week will whack drivers with a new tax.  It’s why I brought this piggy bank as a gift for the MTA.  As long as Nicole and I are around, we will fight to make sure that this is the only dollar the MTA ever gets from their Congestion Tax. 

It’s also the only dollar the MTA will get from the federal government if it barrels ahead with the $23 dollars a day – $5,000 a year – Congestion Tax it is planning to whack hard-working Jersey and New York commuters with as soon as next year – just for driving south of 60th. Can you imagine a hard-working nurse or Uber driver from Jersey having to pay $23 dollars a day on top of the $16 dollars they pay to go over the GW Bridge — not to mention what it costs for parking and gas?  

It will cost Jersey commuters upwards of $20,000 a year for the privilege of sitting in New York traffic and supporting the local stores and restaurants in the city. You’d think New York, especially the Mayor and Governor, would do everything they could right now to get all of the nearly 290,000 daily Jersey commuters back to supporting their businesses and economy. If I were a small business owner that depends on people working and visiting New York or someone who commutes to the city, I would be losing my mind over the Congestion Tax. 

I guess not – I guess they are just too blinded by the cash grab for their mismanaged MTA.

That’s why Nicole and I have both introduced legislation to stop the mismanaged MTA in its tracks. My Anti-Congestion Tax legislation would freeze all federal dollars sent annually to the MTA – in other words, defund the MTA, if they insist on moving forward. They get millions a year plus the record-setting, $15 billion in federal COVID aid. Yes, 15 billion with a B. 

And what did they do with all that money? They seem to have blown it, as if they were on an all-night bender. You wouldn’t believe how badly run the MTA is. In just the first three months of this year, they lost $119 million to fare evasion, heading toward $500 million just this year. 

These are self-inflicted losses that have nothing to do with the pandemic. 

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. It’s a bureaucratic, mismanaged swamp.

That’s why Congresswoman Malliotakis and I are here today — to stand up for hardworking New Jersey and New York drivers who will soon face the MTA’s cash grabbing Congestion Tax. 

Congresswoman Malliotakis and I are introducing bipartisan legislation that will require DOT’s Office of Inspector General to conduct a full audit of the MTA to see exactly where the billions of federal dollars they received over the last years have gone, including during COVID. It’s time we audited the MTA that keeps pouring the dollars we’ve sent them into a black hole. We cannot continue to give this terribly mismanaged government authority billions in federal dollars unchecked. 

The last thing that a terribly mismanaged government authority, who’s faced indictments for fraud and is riddled with investigations, needs is more money.

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

Every nickel of the new Congestion Tax imposed on hard-working Jersey families, from nurses to taxi drivers to hospital patients, will go to New York. 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, there just aren’t mass transit options. I know this is an issue for Staten Island, too. 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 — we can even get some decent pizza and bagels while you’re there.

And another thing, I’m calling on E-ZPass, the multi-state toll consortium, to immediately cease and desist with its Soviet-era propaganda campaign, where they are sending blast emails lying about the Congestion Tax to their millions of E-ZPass holders. In one of their recent propaganda emails, they rave about how great the fees will be for those commuting south of 60th street, but conveniently left out the cost of the Congestion Tax, how it will kill small business in the city, and likely make traffic horrifically worse north of 60th Street and at the bridges and tunnels commuters take to enter the city. 

These government propaganda emails are an egregious misuse of personal email addresses and taxpayer resources. Again, I’m calling on E-ZPass to immediately cease this disinformation campaign they are allowing the MTA to propagate. 

Finally, I’m encouraging everyone who opposes the Congestion Tax to submit comments to the MTA and let your voices be heard at virtual public hearings starting on August 25th. You can email your comments to CBDTP@mtabt.org or go to my Twitter or Facebook page – or to my website – where I’ve provided the links to submit comments and view the hearing schedule.

When we work together, New Jersey and New York are a tough combination to beat. Look at how well we’ve cooperated for more than a hundred years at the Port Authority.  Guess New York City is going at it alone, sticking it to their own outer boroughs — and forcing Congresswoman Malliotakis and I to dig in and fight back. The fight is just beginning. 

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

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