8:19 am Dec. 8, 2011
Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged the governor to sign his outer-borough taxi bill during a radio interview this morning, a day after the governor declined to include a revised bill in yesterday’s big tax-code overhaul.
“This is a bill that should be passed,” said the mayor, in an early-morning interview with WCBS radio in the station's new Hudson Square offices. “And the governor has assured me a number of times that it is going to get passed. He had at one point said there was some minor changes he wanted to make. I assume those are all made. They certainly had plenty of time in Albany to do so.”
In June, the state legislature passed a bill, based on the mayor’s proposal, that would create up to 30,000 permits allowing livery car drivers to both pick up pre-arranged calls and do that which they’d been doing illegally for years: picking up street hails.
Permits for this new class of cab, known as the borough taxi, would last three years and cost $1,500. To protect the interests of the yellow cab industry, which has been fighting the bill vociferously, these borough taxis would be forbidden from picking up hails in Manhattan south of 96th Street on the east side and 110th Street on the west. They would also be forbidden from picking up hails at city airports.
The legislation also calls for the creation of 1,500 regular taxi medallions, which, selling at upward of $1 million a piece, would be expected to net $1 billion for the city, which is facing a $2 billion budget gap in 2013.
In recent weeks, city and state policymakers had been hashing out a compromise bill, know as a chapter amendment, and as of yesterday afternoon, sources told me, an agreement between all of the relevant parties had been reached. Then, unexpectedly, the governor’s staff said he was not interested in including the chapter amendment in yesterday’s vote, which slightly reduced tax rates for all New Yorkers.
The governor declind to explain his reasoning to the mayor’s staff. And yesterday, the governor’s spokesman, Josh Vlasto, denied there had ever been a deal, or that all outstanding issues had been addressed.
This morning, the mayor pushed back against the governor’s version of events, and once again made the case for the bill.
“It’s important for two reasons,” he said. "From a short-term reason, it would generate a billion dollars to help us close our budget gap this coming year and the year after. And without that, we’d have a much bigger problem than we would with that.”
“The long term reason that this just has to get done is that four and a half boroughs in the city basically don’t have taxi service,” continued the mayor. “You can’t hail a cab in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx and in Manhattan north of 96th Street. When you get into a cab south of 96th Street in Manhattan and you say you want to go to any of those other places, something like a quarter or a third of the drivers say, I’m not going.’ You just cannot have that happen.
“And so we’ve worked very hard with the legislature and the governor. I think every issue has been addressed. All of the new medallion cabs would be handicapped accessible ... It would give the people in these other boroughs real service.”
The mayor also pushed back against recent reports that the administration may be considering a property tax hike.
“We have no intention of raising taxes,” said Bloomberg. “Not even being discussed. And not will be. Will not be.”
Finally, the mayor addressed a recent Daily News report that thanks to cost overruns, the new 7 train to the far west side will cost $2.4 billion instead of $2.1 billion. In so doing, the mayor needled Albany for inattention to New York City infrastructure.
“I don’t know where those numbers come from,” said the mayor. “I think it’s a different county. No. Fundamentally, the subway line, which incidentally is being built by the M.T.A., but being built with city money, is basicaly on schedule, on budget, if you start counting different things in there.
“And the west side is about to really happen ... You have to have that transportation and the taxpayers in New York City reached into their pockets when the state did not come up with any money to build a subway. They haven’t built a subway in a long time other than the Second Avenue, and in all fairness, a little bit to East Side Access. Those projects have some big problems. But this one, all the boring has been done, and we’re working on it.”