State Sen. Catharine Young (R,C,I -57th District) recently sent a letter to New York State Thruway Authority Chairman Howard P. Milstein in protest to the proposed 45 percent toll increase for commercial vehicles.
The text of the letter is as follows:
Dear Chairman Milstein:
State Sen. Cathy Young
It has come to my attention that the New York State Thruway Authority is considering an outrageous 45 percent toll increase for commercial vehicles. This huge toll hike is entirely unacceptable, especially in these difficult economic times, and I strongly urge the Authority to drop this proposal immediately.
The negative impact on trucking companies, small businesses, and consumers cannot be overstated. Increasing the cost of transporting goods, when many businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and countless families are having a tough time buying their groceries, is a terrible approach.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been working closely with the Senate to change the direction of the state, and we are making progress. By working together, we have stopped tax hikes, cut spending, and lowered taxes on small businesses and manufacturers. Our goal is to reverse the damage from out-of-control taxes and spending in 2009-10, and to grow economic opportunities and prosperity. We must make New York State a more affordable place to live, work and do business so we can compete globally and with other states. In fact, Governor Cuomo's new slogan is: "New York Open For Business."
Hiking Thruway tolls send exactly the opposite message. It resoundingly says to the private sector that our state is closed to economic growth.
Right now, many small businesses, especially trucking companies, have razor thin margins due to skyrocketing fuel prices and the downturn of the national economy. If the cost of business increases, it is likely that jobs will be lost, and some employers even may have to shut down for good.
Toll increases generate a hardship for consumers, who will be forced to pay more at the store. When the cost of transporting goods rises, so do prices. People simply cannot afford this inflationary effect, especially in these difficult economic times.
Another issue that always occurs when tolls go up is that a significant amount of truck traffic avoids the Thruway by using side roads. These alternate roads sustain significant damage, wearing out more quickly, because they are not designed or built for such heavy loads.
Unfortunately, the taxpayers must shoulder this extra burden of costly road repair and replacement.
Tractor trailers driving on small village and town streets creates a significant safety hazard. There have been fatalities across the state, with semis colliding with vehicles or hitting pedestrians. Keeping trucks where they belong on the Thruway protects our citizens from unnecessary danger.
Instead of harming our economy through steeper fees, the Thruway Authority must seek more efficiencies. I urge you to carefully review your operations for savings so that you can develop an alternate strategy.
I am hopeful we can work together to grow New York's economy through sound policy decisions that reduce the cost of doing business in our state, instead of making it more expensive.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.