Palmesano: Defeating Thruway Authority Toll Hike Is Win For Jobs, Small Businesses, Farmers, Manufacturers And Families

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) today expressed his relief at the New York State Thruway Authority’s decision not to move forward with a proposed 45 percent toll increase on commercial vehicles. Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison said the Authority will make changes to its own budget in order to eliminate the need for the roughly $85 million the toll hike would have raised annually.

“It gives me great relief that the Thruway Authority has come to its senses and decided not to press forward with its proposed toll increase,” said Palmesano. “This toll hike would have been devastating to the trucking industry and our state’s economy, and completely contrary to New York’s goal of being ‘open for business.’”

Earlier this year Palmesano wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Thruway Authority Chairman Howard Milstein to implore them not to move forward with the proposed toll increase (click here to view the letter). As many as 20 business groups, including the New York State Motor Truck Association, Unshackle Upstate, The Business Council of New York State and the New York Farm Bureau, also joined the fight against the toll hike, citing the devastating effects the hike would have on the economy as their chief concern.

The Thruway Authority’s new proposal included cutting $900 million in risky short-term debt, eliminating roughly six percent of the Authority’s workforce and cutting the operations budget of the Authority by 21 percent in 2013.

“Preventing this toll hike is a major victory for New York workers and job creators that will ensure farmers, small businesses and trucking companies won’t have to close their doors or move out of state just to stay in business,” said Palmesano. “More importantly, though, this is a victory for New York families who would have been hit hardest by the toll hike in the form of higher prices on everything from food to clothing. This also will protect our local communities from increased truck traffic that would have deteriorated local roads and hurt local property taxpayers as trucking companies would have sought less expensive routes to avoid tolls.”

Palmesano also applauded the efforts of Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who traveled the state to spread awareness concerning the proposed toll hike and plans to introduce the Thruway Authority Accountability Act in the coming legislative session, which Palmesano pledged to co-sponsor. “Minority Leader Kolb’s leadership was instrumental in preventing this costly toll hike, and I thank him for his efforts on behalf of the small businesses, farmers, manufacturers and families of our state in halting this move by the Thruway Authority,” said Palmesano of Kolb.

The Thruway Authority Accountability Act would restore accountability, increase efficiency and save taxpayer dollars by adding oversight beyond just the Authority’s board of directors. “I look forward to working with the Governor, Leader Kolb and my colleagues in the Assembly to bring about a common-sense and long-term solution that will avoid toll hikes in the future and keep our state’s economy moving forward,” said Palmesano.