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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The centuries-old New York City subway system has been dealing with even more problems than usual. Among them are the number of train delays that commuters have to experience increasing dramatically, as well as several accidents occurring which are raising concerns about commuter safety. All the while, subway pass fares have been increasing every two years, the most dramatic increase being the cost of a monthly MetroCard rising by $4.50 to $121 in March.  With calls for even more money from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to fix the subway issues and political wrangling occurring between the offices of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo over whose problem this is, a tax on millionaires in New York City has been proposed to provide funding to fix everything.

Mayor de Blasio intends to announce this “millionaires tax” within the month for the wealthier residents of New York City to fund any and all needed improvements to subways and buses in the New York City transportation system and, hopefully, decrease fares for riders.  Such a program has found success in the city of Seattle.

While Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have been fighting over who has the responsibility to deal with subway problems to begin with (Governor Cuomo controls the transportation authority but has been calling out Mayor de Blasio to fix the subways) both have been experiencing the political fallout of worsening service for New York City commuters.  Governor Cuomo’s approval ratings have been dropping among voters, while Mayor de Blasio was the target of a pointed advertisement campaign on television by the union of New York City subway workers.  

In discussing the proposed millionaires tax to fix the problem the mayor has stated, “Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra to help move our transit system into the 21st century.”  Such a tax hike for wealthy New Yorkers would have to be approved by state lawmakers in Albany, New York.  This might present a challenge since the state senate is controlled by Republicans (both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo are Democrats.) However, the situation has become so dire that voters are putting pressure on both parties, since public transportation affects millions of people.

The mayor’s tax proposal is based off an idea by New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, who suggested taxing richer residents of New York to deal with subway repair costs, as well as a political campaign by activists with the transit system to help poorer residents of New York City by reducing fares.

In response, New York State Senate Republicans have put forth that tax raises should not occur while the city supposedly has a surplus. Scott Reif, a spokesman with the Republicans, stated, “If the city wants to up its contribution to help shore up the subways for commuters and their families — which we support — it certainly has the means to do that.”

By: Anat Ghelber