By Chris Mckenna
Rep. Nan Hayworth said Wednesday that she supports an increased tax credit for mass-transit commuters and guaranteed funding for buses and trains in the multiyear transportation bill that cleared the Senate on Wednesday but continues to divide her fellow House Republicans.
"I've been a New York City commuter," she said before speaking with local officials at an informal gathering in Goshen. "Whatever tax relief we can provide, we should provide."
Like other Republicans from metropolitan areas with large commuter populations, Hayworth, R-Mount Kisco, has broken with her party on public transportation during debate on the multiyear funding bill. Last month, she co-sponsored an amendment by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-Manhattan, to restore dedicated funding for mass transit, which Republicans had dropped.
On Wednesday, senators from both parties overwhelmingly supported a bill authorizing $109 billion in spending on roads, bridges and public transportation over two years. One small provision, intended to promote the use of mass transit, would allow commuters to deduct up to $240 a month from their taxable income for bus, train and subway fares.
Hayworth touched on the transportation bill and other local and national topics while chatting with a friendly audience for about two hours in a meeting room at Dana Distributors, the beer seller. The group consisted of 20 county officials and legislators, mayors and town supervisors, most of them Republican.
One local issue discussed was the imperiled federal aid for the Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery School District, which has long been compensated for the vast property that the U.S. Military Academy at West Point takes off the tax rolls. Some 90 percent of the district's territory is tax-exempt government property and parkland. Highland Falls officials have warned that losing federal money would have a devastating budget impact.
Hayworth said Wednesday that she has written a letter to the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, asking them to pay "special consideration to the needs of Highland Falls."