Thursday, August 23, 2012
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MINEOLA – A State Supreme Court justice in Nassau County ruled the MTA payroll tax unconstitutional on Wednesday. The tax has been levied on all employees in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester in the Hudson Valley, Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island as well as the five boroughs of the New York City.
Businesses and not-for-profits in the entire MTA region have been screaming bloody murder since the state legislature imposed the tax to help bail the New York City transportation system out of its massive financial woes.
Justice R. Bruce Cozzens, Jr. wrote in his seven page decision that the tax was unconstitutionally passed by the state legislature. “The MTA payroll tax is a special law, which does not serve a substantial state interest,” he wrote. “This law should have been, according to the State Constitution, passed with either a Home Rule message or by message of necessity with two-thirds vote in each house. This did not occur, therefore this law was passed unconstitutionally.”
The Orange County Chamber of Commerce was a plaintiff in the case. Its president, John D’Ambrosio, called the court decision “a real victory.” He said the Mid-Hudson should not have to subsidize other people’s commutes and he said people who drive to New York City for work should have to pay a user fee, in this case, by placing tolls on the MITA-operated bridges in the Big Apple.
The counties of Putnam and Westchester were also plaintiffs.
The MTA, meanwhile, issued a statement late Wednesday saying the agency will “vigorously appeal” the ruling. “We believe this opinion will be overturned, since four prior challenges to the constitutionality of the law making the same argument have been dismissed.”