Tax increase on wealthiest 1 percent would raise as much as $800 million annually
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday rolled out a plan to raise taxes on millionaire residents to help restore the city's subway system and subsidize low-income commuters.
"People do not want to see this madness continue," De Blasio said at a news conference where he was flanked by fellow Democrats, union leaders and activists.
The mayor lamented the rising number of delays in train arrivals that had almost tripled in the last five years, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that is responsible for public transportation in the city.
The proposal raises the top income tax rate from 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent for individuals whose annual income is $500,000 or married couples making $1 million and is expected to generate around $800 million annually.
It also features half-priced MetroCards for New Yorkers at or below poverty level for which $250 million would be allotted. MetroCard is a rechargeable card used to pay rail and bus fares.
The tax, championed by state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens and Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell of Manhattan, faces a daunting challenge for approval at the state level.
The Republican-led State Senate's leader, John Flanagan, said the city had the resources to fix the city’s subways without a tax.
"I'm pleased Mayor de Blasio recognizes that additional funds contributed by the city would further that goal, but raising taxes is not the answer," he said.
The city, which he said has a $4.2 billion surplus, "has the ability to do so with existing resources. Mayor de Blasio doesn't need to reach into the wallets of city residents to make that happen".