State Judge Rules MTA Payroll Tax Unconstitutional

Well, this is just crazy. A State Supreme Court judge has ruled that the MTA payroll mobility tax, which collects more than a billion dollars a year to keep the NYC region’s transit system running, was enacted in a way that violated the state constitution. The payroll tax was passed in 2009 to avert devastating service cuts. It initially collected 34 cents for every $100 of employers’ payroll in the 12-county MTA region, but the tax was rolled back substantially by the state legislature and the Cuomo administration in 2011.

The payroll tax remains one of the region’s single largest sources of transit funding, and doing away with it would throw the transit system into turmoil.

In his decision, State Supreme Court Judge R. Bruce Cozzens, Jr. ruled in favor of Nassau County, Suffolk County, and smaller municipalities in the MTA service region, saying that the payroll tax “does not serve a substantial state interest” and therefore needed to receive home rule messages from the municipalities affected, according to Newsday.

As Transportation Alternatives pointed out in a statement, the ruling “threatens the foundation of the state’s economy.”

We’ll have more on this story tomorrow, but it seems as though the region’s transit system is now at the mercy of an appeals court judge three appeals court judges to be named later, who will decide whether Judge Cozzens’ proclamation that there’s no “substantial state interest” in funding the MTA holds any water.