Rep. Josh Gottheimer has a message for New York’s proposed Congestion Tax:
Two can play this game.
The Representative introduced a plan that would add the New Jersey state sales tax for out-of-state drivers to every toll crossing from New Jersey into New York. The tax dollars would be collected in a Congestion Tax Relief Fund to help New Jersey commuters contending with New York’s proposed congestion tax plan.
“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,” Gottheimer stated.
Fighting New York Plan
Gottheimer joined District 38th legislators State Sen. Joe Lagana, Assemblyman Chris Tully, and Assemblywoman Lisa Swain in announcing the proposal. A similar bill was put forth in the New Jersey Senate.
The lawmakers were hitting back at a New York congestion tax plan that would cost New Jersey drivers an estimated $3,000-per-year in fees for taking the George Washington Bridge to head below 60th Street.
“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 Swain. “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.”
When speaking in Paramus May 10, lawmakers pounded home the fact that New Jersey commuters already pay their fare share. The House member noted New Jersey residents can pay as much as $4,000 per year in tolls as they cross into New York.
“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,” noted Lagana.
Gottheimer wasn’t the only one to call out the double taxation issue.
“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 Tully. “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.”
Additionally, the MTA received $14 billion to help them through the coronavirus pandemic, yet Gottheimer argued the city was trying to use New Jersey as an ATM. The 5th District Congressman noted the city would use the funding for the subway system, without a cent of tax collected going to the PATH or NJ Transit.
“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,” said Gottheimer.
Can Congestion Taxing Work?
With the city reopening, the Congressman openly questioned whether the plan was a practical one.
“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?” he asked.
Gottheimer said he will press the issue with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on plan, urging the Department of Transportation to pause approvals for the scheme.