August 24, 2012
New York Trial Judge Declares MTA Taxing Scheme Unconstitutional
Who should help pay the costs of public transportation?
That's the underlying question posed by Edward Mangano, the Nassau County (Long Island) Executive suing Sheldon Silver, the longtime Speaker of the NY State Assembly. It's a dispute pitting suburban companies against urban interests. The NY Legislature in 2009 passed the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Tax to fund the transit authority that serves NYC and its suburbs. Basically, the law imposes a 34 cent tax per 100 dollars of payroll.
Applying state constitutional law principles, a Nassau County judge issued a six page ruling in Mangano v. Silver, that the MTA tax was a "special law" that did not serve a substantial state interest and therefore did not satisfy the state constitutional process requiring a Home Rule message or a message of necessity with two-thirds vote in each house. It's sure to be appealed: the stakes are high and the opinion superficial. Meanwhile, because the process rather than the substance is the issue, perhaps the matter will be solved by political maneuvering.
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