This isn’t the first Hochul reversal

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With help from Shawn Ness

Gov. Kathy Hochul killed congestion pricing.

In a video message this morning, the governor told New Yorkers that she had made the “difficult decision” to “pause the program indefinitely.”

The move shocked political insiders across the state and angered the politicians and advocacy groups who spent more than a decade of political capital pushing through the controversial plan.

Today’s announcement, first reported by POLITICO, also speaks to Hochul’s approach to governance. At other points in her career, she abruptly opposed policies she inherited from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and previously championed.

Remember cap and invest? Hochul’s administration proposed amending the Cuomo-era climate law in the late days of budget negotiations last year to make the program less expensive. But she withdrew after environmental groups and lawmakers revolted, and her administration is now evaluating a price cap on caps and investments that — in the absence of significant other policies — will keep the state from reaching its goals.

And what about bail reform? She was hounded by Cuomo-era policies during her re-election race against former Rep. Lee Zeldin, coming uncomfortably close to defeat. Only in the final days of her campaign did she make a last-minute move to focus on crime.

Today’s announcement is similar. State lawmakers and staffers are already packing their bags to leave Albany and return to their districts for the final time this year. There were dozens of cameras showing congestion pricing already installed spread across Manhattan, and the program wouldn’t become a reality until it was first proposed in 2007.

“This is all a new development that happened to us very suddenly, so I don’t know exactly what the governor has in mind,” said Deputy Majority Leader Sen. Mike Gianaris when asked how the state will make up for the planned congestion charge. gain.

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The Legislature will now have to figure out how to account for the estimated $1 billion budgeted in revenue from congestion charges. Lawmakers believe there are two options: draw money from the state’s rainy day fund, or generate revenue from the MTA through a business or payroll tax.

Even when the congestion charge was to be introduced, lawsuits were filed to abolish it. In a legal filing today obtained by POLITICO, the MTA told the court that these fights will no longer be necessary.

Hochul attributed her reversal to fiscal concerns, saying today: “A $15 levy may not mean much to someone with the means, but it could destroy the budget of a working- or middle-class household,” she said.

She also said, “For those cynics who question my motivation, I approach every decision through one lens: What is best for New Yorkers?”

POLITICO already reported on another motivation. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries was among those reportedly concerned that congestion pricing could hurt Democrats’ chances of winning swing seats in New York, where their party’s losses two years ago helped tip the balance of power toward the Republican Party. (Hochul’s announcement came just twelve hours after that story was published late Tuesday night.)

Remember, Hochul spoke with grandeur on congestion pricing just before this year’s legislative session was set to begin: “From time to time, leaders are called upon to envision a better future and be courageous in implementation and execution,” she said at a pro-congestion awards ceremony in December collection. Jason Beeferman

The state assembly has a much slower pace of considering bills than the upper house.  The General Assembly votes on legislation at a rate of nine bills per hour, while the Senate, on the other hand, votes at a rate of 59 bills per hour.

THE SLOW PACE OF THE MEETING: Advocates for a wide variety of issues have expressed a similar concern this week: There may not be enough time for the Assembly to vote on their bills before they leave town this week. There are 150 members who would like to debate bills in that chamber, compared to 61 currently in the Senate, and the technical means to cast votes take longer than in the Senate.

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The figures confirm the slow pace. While the Assembly only adjourned at 11:37 pm on Monday and at 10:49 pm on Tuesday, members passed only 137 bills – a rate of nine per hour spent in session. The Senate was finished around dinner time both days, but managed to pass 295 bills – a rate of 59 per hour. –Bill Mahoney

BRAKE THE LAW: Before Mayor Eric Adams toppled a motorcycle and signaled bulldozers to crush rows of others at a now-closed Staten Island landfill today, he announced that the city would double punitive measures against illegal use of e-bikes and motorcycles.

This week, the NYPD launched an enforcement action against the unregistered vehicles, which city officials say are increasingly being used to commit robberies and other crimes in the city.

“These mopeds and scooters are used to commit crimes,” Adams said. “We’ve also seen criminals use them to drive around and take property like cell phones, jewelry and wallets from New Yorkers.”

E-bike-assisted crimes have increased dramatically in the past two years.

For example, in the first five months of this year, the number of robberies increased almost eightfold compared to the same period in 2022, while the number of complaints increased tenfold.

Two days ago in Corona, Queens, two police officers were shot during a crackdown by a person riding an unregistered scooter with a loaded gun, according to NYPD Chief of Police John Chell.

“Within hours, we seized 74 bicycles, made numerous arrests and issued numerous summonses.” he said during Wednesday’s announcement.

The enforcement strategy, which includes checkpoints along tunnels and bridges and the deployment of community response teams, is not intended to ensnare delivery drivers who frequently operate these bikes.

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“The biggest culprits are not those who are honest working delivery drivers,” Adams said, hoping to connect with companies that approve the sale of unregistered vehicles in the first place. “Use it legally and the police are your friend.” said Adams. – Jillian Peprah-Frimpong

ALBANY CHOOSE IN: Albany County has signed up for the charity eviction program. But Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has yet to sign the bill. The law would prevent tenants from raising rents by more than 10 percent and guarantee lease extensions for non-problem tenants. (State of politics)

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: The Hochul government has struck a deal with the Police Benevolent Association to give its members 12 weeks of paid parental leave and annual salary increases. The agreed contract has a term of three years. (Times Union)

BRAGG SAYS NO TO TERMINATION OF GAG ORDER: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg doesn’t think it’s time to lift the silence order placed on Donald Trump during his hush-money criminal trial. His team wrote a letter to Judge Juan Merchan opposing Trump’s desire to lift the order. (Newsday )

Missed this morning’s New York Playbook? Read it here.

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