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Gianaris calls for a millionaires’ tax to fix run-down subway system

June 20, 2017 By Jason Cohen

State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) plans to increase taxes on the wealthy to help cover the cost of repairing the run-down subway system.

The senator plans to introduce legislation, titled “Better Trains, Better Cities,” that would institute a three-year, temporary state income tax surcharge on millionaires living within the 12 counties served by the MTA. The legislation would also raise New York City hotel/motel taxes during the three-year period.

The personal income tax surcharge would be graduated starting with those earning between $1m-$5m with the rate increasing above the $5 million mark. The hotel/motel tax would be an additional $5 fee to the current tax.

The surcharges, according to Gianaris, would raise more than $2 billion annually, which would be allocated exclusively to maintaining and upgrading the MTA system at the discretion of an “emergency manager.”

The bill calls for the creation of a new position, called an emergency manager, whose primary responsibility would be to oversee the maintenance and operation of MTA trains.

The emergency manager, according to Gianaris, would be nominated by the governor and confirmed separately by the state Assembly and Senate. The appointee would have to be confirmed within 90 days of his/her nomination and must present both the assembly and senate with a comprehensive plan of action before a confirmation vote is held.

Modeled on the successful ‘Safe Streets, Safe City’ program that played a large role in reducing high crime rates in the 1990s, “Better Trains, Better Cities” would create a temporary surge of dedicated revenue to deal with an ongoing crisis, Gianaris said.

“The dismal state of our mass transit is as much of a crisis today as rampant crime was decades ago, and it requires the same attention and dedication of resources to solve,” Gianaris said in a statement. “My ‘Better Trains, Better Cities’ plan provides the focus and resources necessary to reduce the chronic delays and service interruptions plaguing our system and end the nightmare commuting has become for too many New Yorkers.”

The bill is being sponsored in the Assembly by Danny O’Donnell (D-Manhattan). “While the MTA is a state run agency, it needs to remember that the majority of the subway use is in the city,” O’Donnell said.

“With a daily ridership of nearly 5.7 million people, the New York City subways are an integral component of our economy and New York State’s tourism industry,” O’Donnell said in a statement.

“Whether ferrying workers, students, or visitors, our public transportation system is expected to operate as advertised – on time. We have reached a transportation emergency…most of which affect already underserved communities. The economic impact is drastic, which made partnering with Senator Gianaris on this common sense solution a simple decision,” O’Donnell said.

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lionel q. deveraux

Might as well throw the money down the sewer…same as giving it to the MTA. It is a dysfunctional agency run by a dysfunctional board appointed by a dysfunctional governor. The MTA sucks and if you think Joe Lhota will fix it (part time, no less) i have a bridge to sell you…

Wait, maybe Trump can have Jared Kushner take a crack at it!

Changes they are coming

I love the way gianaris is smiling like ” you know this is all talk right”
Very funny

Cop from the village people

Make the fare lower and don’t fix anything. I think it runs fine now subways aren’t supposed to be on time , clean or comfortable.


I want an independent audit on All of their books to follow the money. Millions pay to ride everyday, increasing all the time, fares get raised but service continues to deteriorate. They claim it needs extensive repairs but they’ve been using that excuse to guilt the riders into paying more without ever solving problems. Stop talking about taking money from people who worked hard and long to better their lives or workers who earned their pensions Go after the crooks at the top who are scamming you !


No audit necessary. Cuomo has been taking from the MTA to spend on roads. It’s been reported.

Concerned Citizen

It should be a concern that at some point the relatively small but ultra rich and net worth {~1200) who pay about 20% of all city income tax or the 35K who also pay over 50% are also highly mobile making for an inherently precarious tax base.

Yes, the richest pay the NYC taxes now but if the big jumps in pension payments and city payrolls since 2014 continues to eat into infrastructure and city services it risks tipping the cart and threatening to make NYC an unattractive place to live and work. It’s happened to other cities so its not so far fetched. City Hall laid off 50K municipal workers in the 70s fiscal crises including thousands of cops.

A collapse in the tax base would quickly compound the problem. Its not hard to see a wave of strikes including the transit system blighting NYC especially in its aged state.

I agree the rich have to pay more in taxes as the poor can’t but there’s a tipping point where folks may decide they’re tired of carrying it all for a very empty can.

El loco

Where are the usual MTA apologists? Oh the subway is not so bad. Oh the subway is open 24 hours. Oh the subway carries millions of people. New York’s subway is a disgrace. The collapsing system will bring the city down as it did in the 70’s and 80’s.

Fan of Dough boy Park

That’d be a good start. Also, if the MTA was getting their equivalent share of the budget, we’d be in better shape. Cuomo has shifted spending towards roads instead of the MTA.

Thurston Howell, now that

Bad writing

A millionaire is someone with a net worth of over 1 million. If you own a home and have a decent 401k youre a millionaire, has nothing to do with income.

I am one of these people because I own my home and I am older, but my salary is fairly average.

This isnt a tax for “millionaires”, its for those with million + salaries


Another pathetic idea from a politician. Must be one of the only companies in the world with 5.7 million customers a day that are not making money, Why is that i wonder, Maybe a little Top-Heavy.


Lets see, $6 for round trip every day times 6 million people (according the the mta website) = a minimum of $36 million a DAY!!!!!! PLUS extra from tolls, PLUS extra for the mta tax imposed on nyc businesses, PLUS metro north, PLUS lirr. where is this money going? definitely not joe sixpack’s payroll.


Yes, cos as we just saw in last year’s election working class America is doing just dandy…let’s fix the MTA’s problems off their backs. Let’s cut their pensions, which, FYI, amounts to a tax on the working class, doesn’t it? Let’s tax them by cutting their pensions while not daring to tax those so wealthy they won’t notice a few dollars more paid out each year.


i usually dont get political but typical D always more taxes, never cutting the TA pensions which in today’s world is outlandish, no more 20 and out no more pension spiking no more unused sick day carryovers….more employee contributions no FREE lifetime health care for spouses

There is more then enough money in the budget if you just deal with the insane pension and disability costs


The MTA need to be bought by Google or Amazon. The MTA is proven a true failure of government trying to provide a service. Of course most NYC residents will “dislike” this truth because they forgot that this country was for people to make a name for themselves and keep the fruits of their labor, not to have it stolen by people in suits.


“The bill calls for the creation of a new position, called an emergency manager, whose primary responsibility would be to oversee the maintenance and operation of MTA trains.

The emergency manager, according to Gianaris, would be nominated by the governor and confirmed separately by the state Assembly and Senate.”

Another gov’t job! That’s all these politicians do, tax the rich for their OWN pockets!


@Bruno: A test? For what? To watch other people lay track down and to lie on the platform on your cell phone with a crane in the middle of the road? The subway service is unacceptable. Its run by politicians in Albany who never use it!


Why should employees give up their pensions? They were promised that money as condition of employment, and planned their lives around it. Besides, they’ve done nothing wrong. Furthermore, most of them need that money to survive, whereas Gianaris’s proposal is to tax money that people clearly do not need.



Pension costs are exploding……..because we were so successful in all the non smoking campaign that people ARE LIVING LONGER

Therefore the old 20 or 25 and out was based on lots of people dying EARLY from lung cancer…..and no one changed the numbers to reflect the new reality

Then the Pension SPIKING adding of sick days vacation days to the last years salary to get a much higher payout FOR LIFE again no one expected workers to live so long…

We need to attack the pension crisis by say look you guys are not dying fast enough due to you quitting smoking and leading a healthier lifestyle , so you will get your full pension if YOU ARE FULLY RETIRED no other w2 or 1099…otherwise you will wait till you are at least 65 preferably 70 .


THis guy rikky has the right idea. People who don’t make the decision to SMOKE don’t get the MONEY! If we all smoked, the train would arrive on time. Wake up people.


If TA workers smoked like they did in the 70’sand 80’s thousands maybe 10,000 would have died early from lung cancer and would not be collecting a pension today…. and therefore plenty of money to build another tunnel to manhattan and have incredible service.

Those who ride the 7 should think about reverse commuting, working 2nd 3rd shifts so you would have a seat otherwise it will be at least 25 year before a new tunnel is built.

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