Government Affairs Albany UpdateFebruary 25, 2000
A possible Thruway toll increase was abandoned by the Thruway's three-member board on February 22 in light of increased opposition by several state leaders including Governor Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The Thruway also pitched its plans at public hearings in Syracuse, Rochester and Albany. The plan, which was unveiled on January 27th, called for increasing the tolls on New York's Thruway in conjunction with a 20-city Construction Cost Index. Thruway officials claimed they needed a toll increase to phase in repairs. The proposed 6 year capital plan called for $900 million in new projects which included repairs and improvements in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany areas. The tolls were scheduled to increase this June and would be capped at 3%. The Thruway has not had a toll increase since 1988 and its operating expenses have only increased 1% since 1994. The plan steadily lost momentum in light of opposition and after Assembly Minority Leader John Faso proposed placing the Canal System under the State Parks Department. That proposal, if adopted, would shift approximately $55 million per year in canal upkeep from the Thruway Authority to the State's general fund.
Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli (D-Great Neck) will be the featured speaker at the next meeting of the Government Affairs Council (GAC). DiNapoli, considered by many as a raising star in the Assembly's Majority Conference, is the Chairman of the Local Governments Committee as well as the Co-Chairman of the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. In addition to his duties in Albany, Assemblyman DiNapoli is the Chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee. DiNapoli is slated to discuss his priorities for the 2000 Legislative Session, as well as those of the Assembly's Majority Conference. In addition, he will tell how he and the Democrats were able to win the Majority in this past Novembers Nassau County elections for the first time in 150 years. The GAC meeting will be held on March 21, at 10:00 a.m. at Business Council headquarters.