Weprin Votes in Opposition to Congestion Pricing in State Budget

Albany, New York – Assemblyman David I. Weprin voted in opposition to Budget bill A2009-C, which included sections to create a congestion pricing zone tolling car drivers entering Manhattan below 60th street. Weprin has been fighting against congestion pricing, effectively a tax on middle class commuters and small businesses, since it was first proposed during the Bloomberg Administration.

Following passage of the bill in the Assembly, Weprin noted that the proposed plan delegated toll setting authority, as well as details on toll exceptions that will affect thousands of commuters and small business to a duo of unelected bureaus, the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and the soon to be created Traffic Mobility Review Board. Despite Weprin’s support of criminal justice components included in the legislation, including the elimination of cash bail for most misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses, reforms to the discovery process, and changes to ensure the right to a speedy trial; the Queens legislator stated that the inclusion of congestion pricing would have unfairly penalized millions of middle class New Yorkers, especially those living in transit deserts like those in Eastern Queens.

Weprin voted in support of the remaining bills in the 2019-20 Enacted Budget, which included measures to provide critical health funding, investments in education and school aid, funding for essential human services, and electoral reforms.

“I am very torn by this bill because as Correction Chair, I’ve long advocated for the criminal justice reform in this bill. Bail reform, discovery reform, speedy trial reform; all bills that we voted for in previous years in one house bills that I voted for,” said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. “But, I cannot vote for this bill because I’ve been fighting various congestion pricing proposals for over ten years going back to Mayor Bloomberg. Of all these proposals, this is by far the worst. It gives a total blank check to the TBTA. We do not know how much we are going to be taxing our constituents whether it’s going to be ten dollars or twenty dollars or thirty dollars. Is there a cap on it? Is the zone going to be changed? How often will it go up? There are so many unanswered questions in this. So, even if I was a supporter of congestion pricing all those years, I could not vote for this proposal with the openness of it. I actually represent what’s referred to as a transit desert where you have to take two buses. The Eastern part of my district you have to take two buses and a train to get into mid-town Manhattan Zone and it often takes my constituents two hours to get into the zone while if they are driving even with congestion it takes about an hour, so for all of those reasons I cannot in good conscious vote for this bill. I vote in the negative.”