DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Mayor Bill de Blasio wants state legislators to pass a "millionaires tax" to pay for repairs to the ailing subway system and to subsidized MetroCards for low income residents, he announced Monday.
The legislation would generated about $700 million a year and would affect around 32,0000 people in the city who earn more than half a million dollars a year, according to the mayor. That shakes out to $7 a day in income taxes for people making half a million dollars, he said.
"It's time for a millionaires tax so that regular New Yorkers can get to work," said De Blasio said.
The richest New Yorkers who are paying top dollar to park their cars in garages and dine out an posh restaurants, won't even notice the tax, he said at a Borough Hall press conference that he arrived to via subway.
"They’re not going to miss $7," he said.
Half of that money would go directly to the state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority for them to further invest in bonds for capital projects and would allow them to fund around $8 billion in capital investments, the mayor said.
The other portion of the yearly revenue would pay for half-priced MetroCards for around 800,000 New Yorkers living below the federal poverty line.
The mayor said that the bill should sail through Alban with bi-partisan support because only residents of the five boroughs — not upstate taxpayers — would be affected by it.
But the critiques of the proposal, including MTA Chairman Joe Lhota and Transit Workers Union President John Samuelsen, say while creating a dedicated funding stream is a good one, they need funds now to fix the decrepit subways and they can't wait for the glacial legislature Albany.
"We need short-term emergency financing now," Lhota said in a statement, who was slated to hold his own press conference Monday afternoon. "They mayor should partner with us and match the state funding now so we can turn the trains around."
"Emergency train repairs can't wait on what the state legislature may or may not do next year," he added.
The chairman later said during a press conference at Penn Station that congestion pricing also "seriously needs to be considered" as another way to raise capital and reduce the number of vehicles in Manhattan business districts.
"We need to have a very sincere debate because the amount of traffic, the amount of traffic in the city is unbelievable."
Transit Workers Union President John Samuelsen praised the idea of taxing the rich to fund costs but also said more needs to be done immediately.
"That is a long-term solution. Riders are suffering right now! They can't wait for legislation," he said in a statement. "The mayor must address the immediate subway crisis immediately — and he can. City Hall has $4 billion surplus!"
Samuelson also said the city should start reimbursing the agency for student MetroCards and other services that assist the disabled.
"Since the city doesn't reimburse the MTA for those services, the MTA is subsidizing city government to the tune of nearly $500 million a year," he said. "It doesn't make sense. It's flipped upside down. City Hall is supposed to subsidize the MTA, not the other way around."