Senator Greg Ball and Rob Astorino, Westchester County Executive: Fighting for the Repeal of the MTA Payroll Tax and Supporting a Full Forensic Audit of the MTA

YORKTOWN NY (April 27th 2011) Senator Greg Ball (R, C-Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess) was joined by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Westchester County Legislator John Testa and Yorktown Town Councilman Councilman Dr. Terrence Murphy (R, I – Jefferson Valley) at a press conference today to support Senator Ball’s legislation fully repealing the MTA payroll tax, and providing for an immediate full forensic accounting of the MTA.

 Senator Ball’s legislation S4716, exempts self-employed persons, localities, school districts and not for profit corporations from the MTA mobility tax. The Senator is also proposing legislation which will repeal the MTA taxes on school districts by the end of 2016. As well as a measure that will require the MTA to attend the majority of public hearings on fare hikes in order to cast a vote.  

 In, August Westchester County passed a resolution authorizing the county attorney to sue the MTA over the MTA employer payroll tax. The lawsuit, which is led by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, also includes Putnam County, and the towns of Chester, Deer Park, and Monroe in Orange County

 The MTA Payroll Tax, enacted in May 2009 to pay for the MTA’s budget gap, imposes a 34 cent tax on Hudson Valley employers for every $100 of payroll. The tax is estimated to cost Hudson Valley employers $165.3 Million in 2010.

 Senator Ball remarked “The single most important thing we can do collectively in the Hudson Valley to create jobs is reversing the MTA payroll tax. The MTA payroll tax is the final nail in the coffin of a state that is trending vociferously into a downward spiral, people and businesses in the Hudson Valley and beyond are being taxed beyond our ability to pay and we simply cannot take it anymore.”

 “This tax has been incredibly destructive for businesses, especially small businesses,” said Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “New York does not have a revenue problem it has a spending problem. The public is entitled to know where its tax dollars go and this legislation provides much needed accountability which is the first step in curbing spending that we cannot afford.”

 “This job killing tax has impacted the town, its school districts, businesses, and not-for-profits, which is all put on the back of the average taxpayer in order to fund a New York City transit system which we do not rely on.” Stated Councilman Murphy

 Legislator John Testa (R-Peekskill) called the MTA Payroll Tax an “egregious tax” that unfairly burdens Westchester County businesses to the point that many are leaving the County. “I introduced a resolution last summer because I felt it was time Westchester County joined our counterparts throughout the region in challenging the unconstitutionality of this unfair tax,” Testa said. “In light of the egregious waste and abuse uncovered in audits by the New York State Comptroller’s office, We owe it to the taxpayers to repeal this tax. I congratulate Senator Ball for his leadership on this issue at the State level.”

 Senator Ball was also joined by Mary Ellen Odell, candidate for Putnam County Executive and Putnam County Legislator Vincent Tamagna who were integral in getting Putnam County involved in the lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the MTA payroll tax.

 “Every time we buy a gallon of milk, we’re hit with the MTA Payroll Tax. We’re taxed by the MTA on our payroll. We’re taxed by the MTA for our schools, our towns and our county. Small business owners and taxpayers are forced to pay this tax many times over.  When I was a Putnam County Legislator, along with Chairman Tamagna I lead the county effort to build consensus with the other counties in our region to resist the MTA Payroll Tax, including civil disobedience and a class-action lawsuit along with Nassau and Westchester Counties. Senator Ball’s bill to repeal the MTA Payroll Tax and forensically audit the MTA is needed by the small businesses and non-profits here in Putnam..”

 Ball has been fighting to get the tax repealed since it was instated in 2009. The Senator believes the tax is an unfair and unnecessary burden which has been placed on his constituents in the Hudson Valley. “We pay taxes to the MTA, a service that many in the Hudson valley are not even using.”

 As an additional measure Senator Ball is also proposing legislation that will provide for a full forensic audit of MTA accounting practices. The Senator fought for the audit to be included in the budget, but found opposition from members of the Assembly due to the 2 million dollar price tag an independent forensic audit carries.

 Ball remarked,  “Every penny of the two million dollars we spend on a forensic accounting will be recouped when we finally see where all of the money is going. We can either spend the money now, or fix the problem, or the state can continue to increase taxes while having to bailout the MTA year after year. Clearly, the millions of dollars our businesses have handed over to the MTA have not been used for the benefit of the public, the MTA needs to be made accountable for their practices, not the people of the Hudson Valley”

 The last MTA bailout bill in 2009 cost the state 2.26 billion dollars. In the past decade the MTA has been involved in multiple scandals involving the mismanagement of funds, including the renovations to MTA headquarters which went one-million dollars over the proposed budget. According to reports the MTA now has plans for a 184 million dollar renovation to the 400,000-square-foot Jay Street building in Brooklyn, which once housed the headquarters of MTA New York City Transit. The MTA continues to pay the city rent on the building despite the fact that for almost a decade, it has stood empty.

About Greg Ball

Assemblyman Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) is the Senator for New York State's 40th district. A former Vice President of Exceed International Development Corporation, Ball holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the United States Air Force Academy, is currently completing his Masters Thesis of Liberal Studies in International Affairs at Georgetown University, and received an honorable discharge in 2005 at the rank of Captain after service as an active duty officer in the United States Air Force. View all posts by Greg Ball →

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