Today, Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R,C-NY) sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to stand with him in demanding the release of a study on the impact of the toll hikes on the viability of Staten Island's New York Container Terminal. He also expressed his shared views opposing the use of tolls to pay for the Port Authority's debt and mismanagement.
The letter is attached and the text is as follows:
June 11, 2012
The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
New York State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo,
I read with great interest your recent comments that attributed the increase in Port Authority tolls to wasteful and over-budget spending at the World Trade Center.
I fully agree with your statement that "the toll payer is not an endless, bottomless well for government to dip into to cure their incompetence." And it is extremely problematic that, as you note, toll revenue is being directed towards projects unrelated to transportation improvements. In fact, this diversion of funds was a chief consideration for me when I filed an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit filed against the Port Authority by the American Automobile Association (AAA). As you likely know, this lawsuit persuasively argues that the Port Authority's diversion of toll-generated funds violates the "just and reasonable" standard established by federal code, which dictates that toll increases must be closely related to transportation infrastructure improvements.
As Governor of New York, you play an influential role in wielding 50% of the decision making power behind increasing toll hikes on Port Authority bridges. Considering your recent statements I would strongly and respectfully urge you to exercise this power to provide toll relief to the residents and businesses of Staten Island who are being crushed by tolls hikes that, as you stated, are being directed towards projects unrelated to transportation improvements.
In an effort to provide this much needed relief I would also ask that you join me in demanding that the Port Authority release the data and findings from their much delayed study on the impacts these toll hikes will have on the commercial viability of the Staten Island Container Terminal. While I understand the study may be subject to a confidentiality agreement, the raw data could be a critical tool for policy makers as we work to address this very serious issue. Further, I would ask that you require the Port Authority to release an authoritative list of any subsidies, benefits or tax relief provided to the ports and businesses of New Jersey to ensure that our state is not being placed at a competitive disadvantage.
Let there be no doubt, these tolls pose a severe and deliberate threat to the future viability of Staten Island's economy. As we move forward, your partnership is going to be crucial in fighting the crippling, unfair toll hikes which have left Staten Islanders paying more in tolls than the entire state of Texas. We must act now to address this problem. I respectfully request the opportunity to discuss this critical matter with you at your earliest convenience.
Michael G. Grimm
MEMBER OF CONGRESS