State Senate Democrats, Cuomo Spar Over Manhattan Toll Plan

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Democratic lawmakers and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sparred Wednesday over the details of a plan to impose new tolls in Manhattan, the latest example of the political challenges facing the long-debated proposal.

Members of the Democratic majority in the state Senate said they would not support Cuomo’s plan as it stands because it doesn’t include funding for the Long Island Rail Road. They also noted that under Cuomo’s plan, a motorist driving from Long Island to Manhattan over the RFK Bridge would be tolled twice.

“We cannot support the proposal in its current state,” the six Democratic senators from Long Island said in a joint statement. “We remain ready to help craft a formula that Long Island commuters will find advantageous.”

The objections came a day after Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats, announced their agreement to a 10-point framework for the tolls. As envisioned by Cuomo, the tolls would be imposed on motorists entering central Manhattan beginning in 2021 as a way to raise badly needed revenue for the city’s transit system while also reducing vehicular traffic in the nation’s largest city.

Cuomo wants lawmakers to approve the toll proposal this year, potentially in the state budget due April 1.

A Cuomo aide pushed back against Senate Democrats on Wednesday, noting that the toll proposal is being handled separately from discussions of funding for commuter rail.

“We have no idea what they are talking about,” Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said in an email to reporters.