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Letter: Germino’s Single-issue MTA Tax Campaign Is Ridiculous

Like so many of us taxpayers, I am angry about the NY State Legislature’s budget failures too, with taxes climbing and services diminishing. I hope that a lot of incumbents get what they deserve this November when we vote them out of office. I hope that they don’t get good jobs as lobbyists working against our interests for deep pocket special interest groups when they leave their elected offices. That would be business as usual. Let them get real jobs and do something productive for a change.

Here in my district there is a single-issue, negative campaign.  Republican Germino is attacking Democrat Lavine. The single issue is Lavine’s support for the MTA in the form of a commuter tax. As a resident, small business owner and employer, I recently paid this miniscule tax on payroll and remain grateful to Lavine for co-sponsoring it. It actually costs $340 per $100,000 payroll. That is 0.3 percent. I am not moving to Jersey to escape that tax. I am not closing my business because I cannot afford it. I am not passing it down to my employees. The protest is ridiculous.

That tiny tax is a continuing investment in public transportation of which we need even more. Without that 0.3 percent, the MTA might not have continued to serve the Oyster Bay Line with railroad service, nor continued providing support to LI Bus, which many of us use to commute to and from our jobs, to shopping, recreation and schools. That is a lot to lose. It would cost us by increasing congestion on the roads and air pollution.  It would cost us more in further depressing our real estate values.

Supporting the MTA, which is this county’s largest public transportation system, is an infrastructure issue. The Republicans rejected all alternatives like tolls on free East River Bridges monitored photographically to avoid slowdowns. Would they really prefer to end service on the Oyster Bay Line and LI Bus? What is the Republican plan? What would it cost? What would it cost us to do nothing? (“Nothing” is their secret plan.)

 There was a letter in the Glen Cove papers from a single-issue Germino supporter challenging readers to name just one reason to support Charles Lavine. I have one: Assemblyman Charles Lavine is a co-sponsor of Campaign Finance Reform Bill #7488. 

As a delegate of the LI Progressive Coalition I visited Assemblyman Lavine’s office with a group of eight concerned citizens to address the issue.  Assemblyman Lavine listened patiently and discussed the issue with us at length. This bill is unpopular with lobbyists and most incumbents will not support it. It would bring back the old democratic principal of one vote for one citizen. Imagine that. Fair elections. Not only did our Assemblyman Charles Lavine support our bill, he co-sponsored it. Now that is what I call a responsive and courageous representative.

 Our assemblyman, Charles Lavine, is one of the good ones. He has co-sponsored both these bills in the NY State Assembly. 

 I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but I am convinced that Assemblyman Charles Lavine is one of our best representatives in Albany.  Let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. Let’s help return Lavine to Albany when we vote this November. He is working in our interests. He deserves our support.

 Steve Sloane