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Cuomo on easing Thruway tolls, central NY government consolidation

Doug Kerr
via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 agenda includes more spending on transportation infrastructure and a plan to ease tolls on the the New York State Thruway for some New Yorkers.

Cuomo unveiled the latest peek into his plans for the coming year in Liverpool yesterday, proposing $22 billion for fixing roads and bridges upstate over the next five years, in what he calls the biggest ever transportation capital plan.

The governor also wants Thruway tolls to stop being an impediment to business. He’s proposing the Thruway Toll Protection and Protection Plan that would keep tolls at their current level for the next four years, cut tolls in half for businesses and individuals who spend a lot of time on the Thruway, and eliminate them altogether for farmers.

"It’s been especially burdensome on the agricultural sector because farms by definition they’re trucking in, they’re trucking out, that’s the nature of the business," Cuomo said. "And, they’ve been screaming about this for a long time.”

Cuomo estimates that eliminating tolls would save the agriculture industry $5 million a year. Centerstate CEO Executive Director Rob Simpson said paying fewer tolls on the Thruway is a good idea.

"Every single thing that we can do, via the private sector or government, that brings down the cost to do business in New York state down has a positive impact on the economy as a whole," Simpson said.

Cuomo cites government consolidation in CNY economic development award

While in Liverpool, Cuomo said one of the reasons central New York won one of the big prizes in last month's Upstate Revitalization Initiative Competition was talk of consolidating government.

“The reason why Syracuse and Onondaga won this competition is because they proposed consolidating and merging the city and the county," Cuomo said. "That is a smart idea.”

Cuomo told reporters after a visit to Liverpool yesterday that government consolidation is the only way a city like Syracuse can afford things like massive repairs to a crumbling sewer system. Part of the $500 million earmarked for central New York from the state initiative is $25 million to help move ahead with government modernization, including a proposal to merge Syracuse and Onondaga County into the second largest municipal government in New York state.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.