NEW JERSEY – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Thursday formally called for a Congressional oversight hearing and an investigation into New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) from both the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
Gottheimer believes the American taxpayers deserve answers, under oath, from the MTA regarding how $15 billion of COVID-19 relief taxpayer dollars were spent and why the MTA is hitting hard-working commuters with a new $23-a-day Congestion Tax instead of combating its own mismanagement.
In a letter to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis today, both Gottheimer and Republican Congressman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) urged the Committee to require testimony from Janno Lieber, CEO and Chair of the MTA and investigate the agency.
This call for a congressional hearing and investigation comes as New York and the MTA continue to move forward with their absurd Congestion Tax Plan to whack drivers with a $23-a-day tax to drive into New York City and south of 60th street. The Congestion Tax will cost a hard-working commuter $5,000-a-year — all of it going to the MTA.
The Congestion Tax is a cash grab for the mismanaged MTA to make up for the $2.5 billion budget deficit they are running caused by woeful mismanagement, corruption, fraud, and violations. The MTA received a record $15 billion in federal COVID-19 relief, on top of more than $2 billion received annually from the federal government. A new report from the New York State Comptroller predicts the MTA could have a $4.6 billion dollar operating deficit by 2026.
The MTA’s Record of Mismanagement, Corruption, Violations, and Fraud:
- MTA manager pleaded guilty to obstructing an investigation into bid rigging and fraud.
- MTA manager was sentenced to forty-six months in prison for soliciting and accepting bribes from contractors.
- Office of the MTA Inspector General concluded investigations that found signal maintainers falsifying records, theft from passengersand the agency, procurement ethics violations, deficient maintenance, skipped inspections, and nepotistic hiring.
- Violations include employees crashing and abandoning a boat, sleeping on the job, procuring a charger for a personal Tesla vehicle, and vendors operating as in-house consultants.
- This year, the MTA’s highest paid employee was sentenced for what the judge described as an “orgy of overtime fraud” as part of a ring that stole more than a million dollars from taxpayers.
“The last thing that a terribly mismanaged government authority needs — one that’s faced indictments for fraud and is riddled with investigations — is more of our money. It’s time we get some answers from the MTA that keeps pouring the dollars we’ve sent them into a black hole. It’s long past time for Mr. Lieber to come before Congress to answer, under oath, the many questions that need answers,” Gottheimer said. “The leaders in New York — from the legislature to the Mayor to the Governor — need to take a hard look at the MTA’s operation because it’s hurting hard-working families who need a break right now. They don’t need more taxes, fees, and tolls just to get to work to feed their families.”
“I think it’s important to understand about the New Jersey limousine, taxi cab, rideshare industry and how this would affect lower to middle income as well as folks of a minority background. Ninety percent of our drivers in the Limousine Association of New Jersey are either lower middle income or of a minority ethnic background. If this tax were to go into effect, those drivers’ livelihoods would be heavily affected by this, and their services would be much less attractive,” said Michael DeLamater, representing the Limousine Association of New Jersey. “While Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies are not always on the same page — particularly when they surged into NYC — on this issue everyone is on the same page.”
The Congestion Tax will drain our families’ pocketbooks and hurt small businesses, and it does nothing to actually help the environment or ease congestion. For those in North Jersey near bridges and tunnels, in the outer boroughs, and north of 60th in Manhattan, the Congestion Tax — by the MTA’s own admission — will lead to more traffic, trucks, and pollution and will particularly hurt lower-income families and children. 74 percent of those who testified at the MTA’s public hearings opposed the Congestion Tax.
Gottheimer was joined in Hackensack by Michael DeLamater representing the Limousine Association of New Jersey, Bergen County Commissioner Mary Amoroso, Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton, and Executive Director Fair Lawn Chamber of Commerce Toni DeLisi.