One of the biggest challenges facing New York City right now is its aging mass transportation system, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s infrastructure deteriorating as subways and trains run on an outdated system.
The question remains: What do we do?
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has an idea.
He recently introduced a bill into the Assembly which calls for 2 percent of annual personal income tax statewide to be earmarked for strictly transit use, with the majority of the money being used to fix the MTA.
Dinowitz’s bill would, without raising any new taxes, provide a steady source of revenue for the struggling downstate transit system to make the necessary repairs and improvements it needs.
However, the bill is not just focused on New York City. It also allocates money for upstate roads, highways and bridges. Dinowitz hopes that with this statewide approach, the bill will gain bipartisan support in the Assembly and the Republican-controlled Senate.
The Bronx assemblyman said he is “confident” of its chances. However, one state Senate Republican from an upstate district quickly shot down the proposal.
"The hardworking people of the 52nd District in the Southern Tier did not send me to Albany to raise their taxes and send their hard-earned money to New York City," said state Sen. Fred Akshar, who represents Binghamton and the surrounding region. "My commitment has been and continues to be on finding ways to stop frivolous spending and reduce peoples taxes, not raise them."
Dinowitz has been working to improve the transit situation for a number of years. He recently introduced another bill which would restrict any diversion of funds allocated for transit unless explicitly approved by the state Legislature.
“Many people have great ideas on how to fix our transit system, whether it is upgrading more rapidly to communications-based train control or replacing aging rails and cars” he said. “The common thread is that we need more money to be spent on transit infrastructure, and to ensure that this money is being spent appropriately. Too often, the MTA is used as a piggy bank for other state groups to pay off their debts, which leaves transit users paying for debts that aren’t theirs.”
As the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions, Dinowitz is responsible for overseeing the MTA and is directly involved with transit across the state.
He said everyone should care about the success of the subways and buses under the MTA’s control, even those who don’t use them.
“We have a massive stake in them,” he said. “If the system collapses that will have a devastating effect on our economy and we just cannot let that happen.”