Assembly members Steve McLaughlin (R,C-Melrose) and Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) are moving forward with a bi-partisan legislative public meeting on September 5 in Albany after receiving notice from the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) that it is refusing to hold its own hearing in the Capital Region on a proposed 45 percent toll hike.
McLaughlin and Tedisco’s bi-partisan forum will be held on Wednesday, September 5, in the 1st Floor Conference Room of the Alfred E. Smith Building, 80 South Swan Street, Albany, NY from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Businesses and members of the public are welcome to attend and speak. The meeting is non-partisan, and Capital Region lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will be invited to attend and participate.
The NYSTA held hearings in Buffalo, Syracuse and Newburgh, and claimed one in the Capital Region was not necessary as state law only requires three hearings in “geographically diverse areas.”
“The Thruway Authority is an out-of-control, rogue agency that has no regrets about taking the ‘EZ-Pass’ through the Capital Region,” said McLaughlin. “The excuse of the Authority is that they followed the law and were only required to have three meetings in geographically diverse areas of the state. Let me openly tell Chairman Milstein something: while you may have only been ‘legally required’ to hold three meetings, it certainly doesn't absolve you of the responsibility to let the people have their say in more venues. I suppose being an unelected bureaucrat affords you that luxury. Those of us that strive to serve our constituents do all we can to listen and respond to them. Your three meetings pale in comparison to the potential hundreds of businesses that may relocate outside of New York because of this anti-business decision.”
“For the Thruway, it’s ‘we don’t give damn -- go take a hike’ and for Capital Region taxpayers and small businesses that means more of their tax dollars could soon be gone with the wind ,” said Tedisco. “There’s nothing convenient for hardworking taxpayers and small-business owners to have to travel to Buffalo, Syracuse or Newburgh to make their voices heard in person on the Thruway Authority’s 45 percent toll hike money grab. Since the Thruway Authority won’t do the right thing and continues to thumb its nose at taxpayers, we’re moving forward with our own public meeting in Albany on September 5 and encourage small-business owners and any taxpayer who has an opinion on this toll hike to attend and speak their mind.”
“We have worked consistently with Governor Cuomo to help businesses across the Capital District stay strong during these tough economic times and promote pro-growth policies,” reiterated McLaughlin. “Not only is the Thruway Authority's decision utter arrogance, but a slap in the face to those businesses who are struggling every day and now have not been afforded a chance to voice their concerns. These are real people with their livelihoods at stake and deserve the respect of a public hearing. They'll have that opportunity now on September 5 when Assemblyman Tedisco and I hold our own public meeting,” said McLaughlin.
“If the Thruway Authority wants this tax increase to put them on sound financial footing, what were the toll hikes over the last five years for? To pay for financial mismanagement all those years? If the Thruway Authority wants to get serious about its financial footing, conduct a forensic audit today to eliminate the massive waste, fraud and abuse that we all know plagues your agency,” said McLaughlin.
Editor’s Note: Attached please find the NYSTA’s recent letter denying McLaughlin and Tedisco’s request for a public hearing on the toll hike to be held in the Capital Region along with a letter from the Assembly members in response.