Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R, C – Goldens Bridge)), a vocal leader in the fight to repeal the MTA Payroll Tax and audit the MTA, celebrated today’s ruling by a Nassau County Supreme Court Justice which declared the payroll tax unconstitutional. He had worked with Senator Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson), Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and others in 2010 to join the suit against the MTA.
“Since being elected, I have fought for a full repeal of the onerous MTA payroll tax, a forensic audit of the agency, and legal and legislative action to see this mandate done away with,” Castelli said. “This year we repealed the tax for schools and 80% of small businesses, and now the Courts have fully eliminated this unconstitutional tax once and for all.”
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, and in response to Castelli’s vociferous outcry for an audit of the public authority, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has been conducting a series of audits which have uncovered even more fraud, waste, and abuse.
“My opponent, Mr. Buchwald, hand-picked by Governor Paterson in 2008 to serve on the MTA Metro North Commuter Council board which he now chairs, has been deathly silent on the mismanagement which caused the 2009 MTA bailout, increased fares and fees on New York’s commuters and created this job-killing payroll tax in the first place during his time on the board,” Castelli said. “It is time for him to account for his lack of action on this important public service issue.”
Along with Governor Cuomo, Castelli worked across the aisle to provide full funding of the MTA, with $770 million of direct funding from the state. The five-year MTA capital plan contains $22.2 billion for projects critical to transit in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
The Governor’s plan, supported by Castelli and adopted in the 2012 budget, will produce thousands of jobs, according to the Executive Chamber. The first two years of the MTA capital plan were also funded at $9.1 billion, which will allow the MTA to obtain the full $13.1 billion needed to achieve the five-year capital plan and complete some of the largest construction projects in the history of New York.
“I am confident the appellate courts will uphold today’s ruling, and lawmakers can look toward working together in a bipartisan fashion to reform the MTA and improve public transportation for Westchester residents,” Castelli concluded.
Timeline of Bob Castelli and the MTA payroll tax issue
May 7, 2009 – Governor signs A.8180/S.5451 (MTA payroll tax), which imposes a payroll tax on businesses and non-profits in the 12-county MTA region. Assembly Minority Conference opposes.
February 16, 2010 – Bob Castelli is elected Assemblyman for the 89th District.
February 17, 2010 – Along with then Assemblyman Greg Ball, Bob Castelli hosts a press conference announcing the launch of the auditthemta.com petition, calling for a forensic audit of the MTA & repeal of the MTA payroll tax
February 23, 2010 – As one of his first pieces legislation, newly-elected Assemblyman Bob Castelli introduces a bill calling for the repeal of the MTA payroll tax
March 12, 2010 – Bob Castelli joins then Assemblymen Marc Molinaro and Greg Ball in penning a letter to State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli officially requesting a forensic audit of the MTA
March 15, 2010 – Bob Castelli joins Assemblyman Ball, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and local officials from Orange and Putnam counties calling for legal action against the “unconstitutional” MTA payroll tax
April 26, 2010 – In Albany, Bob Castelli joins twelve Hudson Valley & Long Island Assemblymembers from both parties at a press conference calling for a forensic audit of the MTA & repeal of the MTA payroll tax
May 20, 2010 – Bob Castelli joins Assemblymembers Nancy Calhoun, Annie Rabbitt and Marc Molinaro in opposing the MTA payroll tax publicly during a meeting of the Metro North Railraod Commuter Council
August 13, 2010 – With Assemblyman Ball and County Executive Astorino, Bob Castelli announces that Westchester County will join the class action suit against the MTA to declare the payroll tax unconstitutional
November 15, 2010 – Bob Castelli declares “victory” after State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announces he will launch a series of forensic audits of the MTA
February 4, 2011 – Claiming proposed fare hikes and rail service cuts “don’t track with reality,” Bob Castelli joins the Westchester Assembly Delegation in pressuring the MTA to hold public meetings
February 18, 2011 – Bob Castelli and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin host Metro North President Howard Parmut in White Plains to address constituent concerns
June 22, 2011 – Bob Castelli holds a ‘Repeal the MTA Payroll Tax Now’ press conference in Albany, joined by fifty of his Assembly colleagues, urging action on passage of the payroll tax repeal
November 14, 2011 – Bob Castelli congratulates Comptroller DiNapoli on another audit uncovering overtime abuse at MTA Metro North
December 8, 2011 – Bob Castelli votes to pass the historic fair tax reform deal that repeals the MTA payroll tax for schools and 80% of small businesses
December 16, 2011 – Bob Castelli joins now Senator Ball in rallying for an external audit of the MTA
January 4, 2012 – Bob Castelli introduces legislation, Assembly Bill A, to exempt libraries from the MTA payroll tax
June 6, 2012 – Bob Castelli calls for a full repeal of the MTA payroll tax prior to the end of session