New York governor wants toll break for select Thruway users

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, January 14, 2016

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a plan to give selected users of the New York State Thruway a break on tolls.

The governor unveiled the plan as part of his 2016 agenda. The main component of the plan is touted as the largest investment in transportation infrastructure in Upstate New York.

“The Thruway is a vital artery for commerce and transportation throughout Upstate, so we are going to deliver major toll relief to New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in prepared remarks.

Specifically, his plan would cut tolls in half for in-state passenger vehicle owners using E-ZPass and paying at least $50 in annual tolls. His office estimates the planned tax credit would aid 911,743 motorists.

New York-based businesses and commercial vehicle owners using E-ZPass and paying between $100 and $9,999 annually would also have their toll rates cut in half. About 980 commercial vehicle owners residing in the state would benefit from the tax break.

Trucks hauling agricultural products using E-ZPass would have their toll fees waived through a 100 percent credit.

The governor says the Thruway tolls serve as a “gravy train” that continues to burden Upstate businesses and commuters.

“We want to bring down that cost of doing business,” Cuomo said at a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 13. “(Tax breaks) will send a tremendous, tremendous signal to businesses that this is a much different state than ever before.”

Cuomo also proposed $1 billion from the state budget to cover the toll plan. He said the proposal will allow the Thruway to freeze toll rates for all vehicles until 2020.

Critics say that taxpayers should not be required to continue subsidizing the Thruway.

In addition, the governor announced a five-year, $22 billion transportation capital plan as part of his budget to upgrade “critical roads, bridges and other vital transportation infrastructure throughout the state.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for New York, click here.

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