Duane Tries Again for the Commuter Tax

POUGHKEEPSIE—Reinstatement of the commuter tax has been a non-starter ever since its repeal a decade ago, and there’s no reason yet to believe that its chances are any better this year.

But word comes from State Senator Tom Duane that he is reintroducing the measure—as he does every year—to provide much-needed revenue for New York City. It is being carried by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal in her chamber.

Almost immediately following the announcement, State Senator Craig Johnson issued a statement saying the measure is "a non-starter for me."

"If it comes to the floor, I will vote against it. These difficult economic times have called for shared sacrifice, but singling out suburban residents who already contribute greatly to the New York City economy and are grappling with out-of-control property taxes back home is just simply wrong. I encourage every suburban legislator to join me in opposing the reinstitution of the commuter tax."

Johnson and other suburban legislators also asserted themselves against a payroll tax as part of an M.T.A. bailout plan. The commuter tax was mentioned as a possible funding stream for the M.T.A., but from what I'm hearing, it isn't on the table as lawmakers forge a passable revenue package.

With Johnson's declaration, even if every other Democrat voted for the measure in the Senate it would not pass. Republicans in that chamber led the charge to repeal the commuter tax in 1999, and it's unlikely that any will cross party lines to vote for it this time.