NEW JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and state and local officials Friday announced that New Jersey has officially filed a lawsuit to put a stop to New York’s and the MTA’s anti-environment, anti-commuter, and anti-business $23-a-day-Congestion Tax.
The lawsuit argues that the U.S. Department of Transportation violated the National Environmental Protection Act, which requires a full environmental impact review for projects like the Congestion Tax plan, as well as the Clean Air Act.
New York and the MTA admit in their reporting that the Congestion Tax will hurt the environment and increase air pollution:
- More cars and trucks will be diverted to Northern New Jersey and the outer boroughs just outside of the tolling zone — hurting lower income families.
- There will be increases in traffic, pollutants, and mobile air toxins through 2045 in the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Bergen County (pages 10-21, 10-37, and 10-40).
- There will be increases in particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide in Bergen County, as well as carcinogens like formaldehyde (pages 10–26 through 10-34).
- It is reported that Bergen County could face countless more trucks to Fort Lee.
- The MTA is prepared to spend $130 million from tolling to try to mitigate the Congestion Tax’s negative environmental impacts on families in the Bronx and parts of the outer boroughs. However, New Jersey will receive no funding as a part of the MTA’s plan.
- The MTA’s proposed solutions include installing new air filtration units near schools, more vegetation, and spending $25 million on an asthma treatment program due to the Congestion Tax — an admission of environmental guilt. New Jersey will receive no funding as a part of the MTA’s plan.
Furthermore, according to the MTA’s own projections, if what they say is true and fewer cars go south of 60th Street, the Congestion Tax will leave a billion-dollar hole in lost revenue over the next decade at the Port Authority for their capital projects — meaning fewer jobs for hardworking men and women of labor and fewer infrastructure improvements here in Jersey.
“Today’s a huge day in the fight against New York’s commuter crushing $23/day Congestion Tax. If the MTA gets its way, trucks will be backed up here in North Jersey, billowing cancer-causing pollution into the lungs of our children. I want to thank our Governor for punching back at a state that decided to use Jersey as their piggy bank to solve their years of criminal mismanagement at the MTA,” Gottheimer said. “I don’t know how the MTA Chairman looks at himself in the mirror. He should come to Fort Lee and look Mayor Sokolich in the eye and tell him why it’s okay to give cancer to the children here. I’ve been speaking with mayors from North Jersey in my district — and my bet is he can expect even more lawsuits. We just don’t take a punch in Jersey, we punch back.”
“Four years ago, I sounded the alarm on what New York was planning. Now, we are all here together to get the backs of our hard-working Jersey families and commuters — and anyone in Jersey knows, if you screw with Jersey, buckle up, we aren’t backing down,” Gottheimer said.
“After refusing to conduct a full environmental review of the MTA’s poorly designed tolling program, the FHWA has unlawfully fast-tracked the agency’s attempt to line its own coffers at the expense of New Jersey families,” Murphy said. “The costs of standing idly by while the MTA uses New Jersey residents to help balance its budget sheets are more than economic. At the MTA’s own admission, its tolling program would divert traffic and shift pollution to many vulnerable New Jersey communities, impacting air quality while offering nothing to mitigate such considerable harm. Today we stand as a unified front against this reckless scheme and reaffirm our commitment to combat the unjust taxation of our hardworking residents by other states.”
“As the senior senator of New Jersey, I have made it abundantly clear that it’s unacceptable for New York to try balancing its budget on the backs of New Jersey commuters. Their proposed congestion tax scheme is nothing more than a shakedown and must be defeated,” Menendez said. “Today, I am proud to stand with Governor Murphy, as well as other federal, state, and local leaders, as his administration takes legal actions to protect New Jerseyans who travel into New York every day for work.”
“The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce has been consistent in its long-time opposition to New York City’s congestion pricing plan – and we appreciate efforts by Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer and the state legislature to come to the aid of New Jersey commuters and residents who will be negatively impacted at a time of high inflation and other rising costs,” said Tom Bracken, President & CEO, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. “Congestion pricing also unfairly hurts New Jersey’s economy, especially small businesses, by taking money out of the hands of our hardworking residents that could otherwise be spent on goods and services here in the Garden State. The Chamber supports today’s bill signing because after years of unfair tax treatment towards New Jersey commuters, the state is recognizing the need to end the current tax imbalance by treating New York commuters who work in the Garden State similarly. Finally, we support NJEDA’s pilot program to incentivize New York businesses to assign New Jersey resident employees to locations within our state.”
“NJBIA thanks Governor Murphy, the sponsors, and supporters of this bill for attempting to bring much-needed tax fairness between New Jersey and New York,” said NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka. “As remote work arrangements have increased greatly since the pandemic, it is simply unfair for New York to be claiming income taxes from New Jersey-based workers. New Jersey should be seeing that money for its own fiscal benefit, especially considering there are a number of employees who have not commuted to New York for work for a span of years now. NJBIA agrees with the convenience of the employer test provision of this new law, which allows New Jersey to assess income taxes on non-New Jersey residents who are physically working in the Garden State, just as New York and other states have practiced. We also hope businesses take advantage of the pilot grant program to move their New Jersey employees to New Jersey work locations. The more people we have who live, work and play in our great state, the better for our economy. Lastly, we look forward to the incentives in this bill leading to court action which may be the only way to permanently and comprehensively correct this tax inequity.”
“New York’s Congestion Tax will prove one thing: it’s better to do business in New Jersey. It not only taxes hardworking New Jerseyans who commute to Manhattan, New Jersey’s businesses that serve Manhattan will face enormous cost increases when delivering goods and services that New York City relies on,” said Jim Kirkos, President and CEO of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce. “At a time when New York should be thinking about incentives to return to the city, they are doing the opposite. So, we have a message for them: New Jersey is open for business.”
Gottheimer was joined in Fort Lee by Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, State Senator Joe Lagana, Senator Gordon Johnson, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, Assemblyman Chris Tully, Assemblywoman Haider, Assemblywoman Park, Assemblyman Wimberly, Senator Bramnick, Assemblyman Benson, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, Bergen County Commissioner Dr. Voss, the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, the NJ State Chamber of Commerce, and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.