January 6, 2016

Wondering, on Wednesday (v43)

Our Sonofa Governor Andrew Cuomo is at it again.

The other day he came out with a proposal to raise the wages of some 28,000 SUNY employees (but not CUNY employees) to $15/hour; this, on the heels of his making the same move for fast food workers.  Not at all surprisingly, this announcement was made at a union rally - no pandering there.

Cuomo press office graphic
Today's sugar plums come in the form of "major toll relief" for New Yorkers, via a plan to freeze tolls on the New York State Thruway (I-90) for the next four years, and that "businesses and drivers who use it most" would be eligible for a tax credit to cover the cost of some of their tolls.

Yes, a tax credit.

For Thruway tolls.

The plan?  According to Cuomo's announcement:
  • 911,743 passenger vehicles with EZPass that pay $50 or more annually in tolls would get a tax credit worth 50% of their toll costs; the average annual savings is $97.
  • 26,139 businesses and 976 commercial vehicles with EZPass that pay between $100 and $9,999 would get a 50% tax credit; average credit for the businesses is $686, and $1,872 for the commercial truck owners
  • Farmers taking products to markets would get a 100% tax credit, regardless of how much they spend on tolls.
Between the toll freeze and the credits, today's announcement is over $113 in welfare benefits, er I mean economic assistance, primarily for Upstate residents and business owners, by the Gov's own estimate shown in the graphic above.

As usual, Cuomo has singled out a specific group of people - farmers - for special treatment, ignoring other businesses entirely. With no limit on the farm vehicles, we could be providing tax credits to huge businesses, not just small businesses for whom the tolls might be a considerable burden.  I have to wonder, this Wednesday, what about the small building contractors, painting companies, landscaping companies and the rest who rely on the Thruway to get to their jobs? We'll limit their tax credits to $5,000 because - why? Because they aren't the chosen ones this time around? Because they didn't donate enough to Cuomo's campaign?

And I wonder, does your employer reimburse you for tolls and mileage when you use your personal vehicle? Many do. I'm not certain how (or if) that is addressed in Cuomo's plan, but I'm sure lots of people would be happy to get 150% reimbursement for their tolls.  Especially since the threshold is so low -- a mere $4.17 per month in tolls makes a person eligible for the credit. I can't think off the top of my head how that equates to a burden for upstate residents, or how as little as one trip to the casino per month makes a person deserving of a tax credit.

Corporate welfare, personal tax gimmicks, artificial wages for selected industries only -- that's no way to run a railroad, folks.