If you’re rich and you live in New York City, chances are excellent you have no idea what conditions are like in that vast underground toilet known as the subway. Nevertheless, Mayor Bill de Blasio is counting on you to help improve those conditions and make sure that the current “summer of hell” doesn’t become an annual ritual.
De Blasio on Monday proposed a “modest” tax increase on the city’s wealthiest residents to fund an upgrade of the city’s beleaguered subway system, amNewYork reports. Under the mayor's plan, an individual making about $1 million would pay about $2,700 more in annual taxes, or about $7 a day. The tax increase would generate an estimated $700 million in 2018 before rising to about $820 million annually by 2022, according to the mayor. About $500 million of the tax revenue would go toward capital improvement costs for subways and buses; about $250 million would fund Fair Fares, the proposal to offer half-price MetroCards to eligible low-income New Yorkers. The Fair Fares program, according to the New York Times, would benefit as many as 800,000 New Yorkers living at or below the poverty line who are expected to qualify.
But critics say that taxing the rich will take too long to bring in badly needed funds. De Blasio’s plan would require legislative approval that could take up to a year to achieve. The Republican-led State Senate has already shot down similar attempts by de Blasio, including a millionaire’s tax that would have raised money for affordable housing programs.
“The challenges the subways are facing today need immediate resources and solutions right now, not years from now,” said MTA chairman Joe Lhota. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, has said the state and city should split the cost of the MTA’s short-term $836 million emergency subway repair plan.
As the politicians fiddle, the “summer of hell” continues to burn.
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