Be Patient. Assembly Speaker Heastie Says He Has a ‘Game Plan’ for Congestion Pricing
(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

Be Patient. Assembly Speaker Heastie Says He Has a ‘Game Plan’ for Congestion Pricing

"Just because you can’t see the play by play doesn’t mean a game plan isn’t being executed."

On Friday morning, two days before congestion pricing was supposed to go into effect, a member of Congress, eight state senators, 10 members of the State Assembly, the New York City comptroller, and dozens of organizations ranging from the New York Building Congress to DSA's Ecosocialist Working Group to the Southeast Bronx Community Council, all signed a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul, demanding that she reverse her decision to pause the tolling  program.

"We state unequivocally that delaying congestion pricing will endanger the City’s future, the region’s future, and indeed the future of the State of New York," the letter states. "You must turn on the program on June 30th, as is the law."

Two important lawmakers who didn't sign the letter, but are cc'd: Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. 

How are these leaders reacting to the governor unilaterally overriding a law passed by their supposedly coequal branch of government?

Stewart-Cousins hasn't said much about the congestion pricing pause since it was announced, other than that she still wants to ensure the three main objectives of the program are upheld. "How are we going to mitigate the congestion? How are we going to mitigate the environmental impact and make sure we have a sustainable source of revenue for the MTA?" she told Gannett on June 12. (Stewart-Cousins's office has not responded to our request for comment.)

Heastie, on the other hand, decided to become a reply guy.

On Monday, he fired off a bevy of tweets to underscore that while he remains a supporter of congestion pricing, there isn't much that he, one of the three most powerful people in state government, can do about the governor's pause. Sometimes, he employed gifs to emphasize his point—that he lived in the "real world," as he put it, and that some of the folks tweeting at him, did not.

After the MTA board voted to acknowledge the governor's pause on Wednesday (though there seems to be some confusion about what actually happened—while the board voted 10-1 to acknowledge the governor's actions for reasons of good governance, they stopped well short of endorsing it, and reiterated that congestion pricing should happen ASAP), Heastie began assuring his detractors/constituents that there is, in fact, a roadmap to a "compromise," even if we mortals outside the halls of power cannot see it. 

"It will get figured out," Heastie wrote this morning about congestion pricing, a plan which took 17 years to get figured out (and was totally figured out, after a 4,000 page study and dozens of hours of public testimony) before the governor indefinitely canceled it. 

"Because I’m not on here yelling at Governor and threatening impeachment doesn’t mean that is what is actually going on. Just because you can’t see the play by play doesn’t mean a game plan isn’t being executed. But today all people want to do is yell, insult, disrespect when something doesn’t happen exactly the way they want," Heastie tweeted.

We DM'd the Speaker (we're mutuals!) to see if he is willing to share more of his perspective and his plans in increments greater than 140 words, and will update if he responds.

Currently, the (idea-starved) state legislature is not scheduled to meet to conduct business again until 2025, the MTA now needs $16.5 billion in a matter of months to prevent "catastrophic" cuts to mass transit, and the Federal Highway Administration—which would need to approve any changes to the current congestion pricing plan—might not exist as we know it after November 5.

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