The perils of one-party rule in New York will be felt by all New Yorkers after the recently passed $175 billion state budget.
Last November, Democrats gained control of the state Senate in Albany with significant victories. While in power, the GOP majority in the upper house was an effective check on many radical pieces of “progressive” legislation. Now, without this foil in place, the emboldened Democrats have already pushed through laws that will make everyday New Yorkers pay the price — with their
wallets and quality of life.
What these politicians don’t get is that in their quest to implement their progressive legislation in the name of protecting the environment, reducing Manhattan traffic, or finding revenue for our subways, the real costs and burdens will trickle down to those already struggling to make ends meet in New York City.
For example, let’s take a look at the plastic bag ban and the congestion pricing scheme that was included in the
In May 2016, this columnist, as a Republican candidate for City Council in Brooklyn, appeared on Good Day New York on Fox 5 with Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly to make the case against a plastic bag tax when it was first proposed by City Hall.
Having managed supermarkets both upstate and in Manhattan, I argued that requiring a nickel fee on plastic bags would be a burden on consumers and businesses.
Thankfully, the GOP-led state Senate led the way to block this city legislation from taking effect in February, 2017, as the local law mandated.
However, Democrats in Albany took it a step further last week by banning plastic bags and placing a nickel fee on paper bags.
In 2016, the goal was to discourage the use of plastic bags by taxing them, and push folks to use paper bags to protect the environment. Now, we are banning plastic and placing a fee on paper bags, which shows this was always just another scheme to collect more of our money.
Think about it. We were told plastic bags were so harmful to the environment that we had to move to paper and reusable bags. Indeed, paper bags decompose much more quickly and leave less toxic waste. Now, Albany has banned plastic bags altogether and is allowing local municipalities to require a nickel fee for paper. Of course, Mayor de Blasio and many Council members have already said they will take advantage of the ability to literally nickel and dime us some more.
In making New York only the second state behind California to ban plastic, Albany lawmakers ignored the fact that 1,800 working families in our state rely on the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling sectors for their paychecks, as well as the inconvenient truth that plastic bags only comprise less than two percent of the New York City waste stream.
Meanwhile, reusable bags, which our nanny state legislators want to force us to use, are produced overseas and go for about $3 each to purchase.
Also, a main argument of ban supporters was that plastic bags are just single-use; however, anyone who has a cat or dog will confirm there are many other uses.
The most basic question is how are we supposed to get our groceries home? We can carry around reusable bags. So, that as we go to work in the morning and prepare to be crushed like sardines on a subway or bus, we must remember to carry our reusable bags in case we need to stop at the supermarket on the way home. Who wants this extra burden? Otherwise, we can just pay the extra fee for each paper bag used, which will add up.
Relating to congestion pricing, drivers will be hit with a fee for traveling in Manhattan below 60th street.
Of course, legislators punted the details of the plan to a panel to try and insulate themselves from criticism. It is reported that trucks will pay approximately $25 for each trip delivering food and produce to our stores and supermarkets.
Many of these trucking companies are already saying that they will have to pass the additional costs on to their customers and the retail establishments where we buy our groceries. Of course, these businesses will then raise their prices to cover their extra costs. So, anyone who lives, eats, or shops in New York will have to pay more. No matter the details, the buck will stop with each Democrat who voted for this plan.
All of this lunacy could provide a path for the GOP to bring much-needed sanity and balance to Albany in next year’s elections. For this, many of the borough Republican parties need to get their acts together, or prepare for new, independent-minded reformers to pick up the slack.
Bob Capano is a professor of political science of more than 15 years.