Kathy Hochul got it half right with her late awakening to slam the brakes on NYC congestion pricing

Gov. Hochul got the point, even as she misses the principle behind it.

Still, she’s batting .500, which is damn good for a politician.

The governor’s welcome decision to slam the brakes on the congestion tax was a remarkable turnabout, all the more so because she waited until just 25 days before the greedy wallet grab was about to start.

Her reasoning is beyond dispute.

“Let’s be real, a $15 charge . . . puts the squeeze on the very people who make this city go,” she said in a video announcement.

She also warned the tax would “create another obstacle to our continued economic recovery” from COVID.

All true, and all obvious from the beginning, as The Post repeatedly pointed out in its campaign to spike the hike.

So why the late awakening?

Flip fears

Reports say the tax was so unpopular that fellow Democrats feared it would cost them House seats in the November election, so they asked Hochul for a reprieve.

If true, that would mean she could flip again and reinstate the plan after the election.

Possible but unlikely, if only because it would be political suicide for her.

She’s now made such a strong, fundamental case against the grab that she’d be run out of Albany if she flip-flops again.

What to know about congestion pricing

  • These rates apply during peak hours, 5 am-9 pm weekdays, 9 am – 9 pm weekends. During other times, tolls are lowers to $2.75 for passenger vehicles, $6 for small trucks, $9 for large trucks, and $1.75 for motorcycles. Other rates remain the same.
  • Emergency vehicles, school buses, specialized government vehicles and vehicles carrying people with disabilities are exempt.
  • Drivers crossing into Manhattan using a tolled tunnel get a $5 discount.

Besides, the impact on workers and the way the tax would filter through the economy to drive up the cost of nearly all goods and services in Manhattan would still be true, so it’s hard to imagine her ever again defending the plan with a straight face.

Ditto for Mayor Adams, who quietly went along with the tax but seems to have played no part in the rollback.

It’s strange to see a Gotham mayor being a bystander to such big city decisions.

Nonetheless, it’s troubling that Hochul is said to be mulling a new business tax to replace the $1 billion that the congestion fee was supposed to raise for the MTA each year.

A replacement tax of any kind would show she misses a fundamental economic principle.

New York’s government already taxes and spends far too much and its constant grab for more and more money is a big reason why the city and state are losing population to more family and business-friendly locations.

The out-of-whack spending is driving away the tax base and serves as an obstacle to job- and business-creation.

‘Absurd cost of living’

As I wrote last month in arguing against congestion pricing, “government is a major driver of Gotham’s absurd cost of living. Yet it keeps upping the ante in an ignorant belief that it can make the city more affordable with ever more redistribution schemes.”

The state budget is already double that of Florida’s, even though Florida has 3 million more people.

That means New York spends twice as much per capita as Florida, yet no sane person would claim New Yorkers enjoy a better quality of life.

Instead of a new tax, a better option is to slash the MTA’s bloat and end its money-to-burn attitude. One example is the agency’s admission it lost $750 million a year to farebeaters, yet has been lethargic about finding solutions.

Giving it replacement money only rewards poor management, which will perpetuate the problems.

On the other hand, if Albany and City Hall believe the transit agency deserves larger subsidies, let officials find them by tightening other spending instead of adding to America’s highest tax burden.

Only when Hochul moves in that direction can New Yorkers be certain she’s making the right decision for the right reasons. 

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