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No toll hike for Thruway

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: No toll hike for Thruway
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Earlier this year, the Thruway Authority proposed a toll hike on trucks as a way to raise nearly $85 million in revenue. But as our Beth Croughan tells us, Governor Andrew Cuomo put the brakes on the plan.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- "Today I will present the Board of Directors with a new cost savings plan that does not include a toll hike," said Thomas Madison, the Executive Director of the Thruway Authority.

It's announced Monday that the Thruway Authority will forgo the highly debated 45 percent toll increase proposed for trucks earlier this year. Instead, the Executive Director said they've reopened the books and have found other ways to move the wheels forward.

"The plan that's already underway is cutting $25 million in operating costs in 2012 alone. And we've targeted more than $130 million in savings and fiscal reforms over the next three years," he said.

The plan, which Madison said will allow the authority to keep it's "high A" credit rating, will reduce travel and overtime expenses, freeze managers salaries and eliminate the $60 million a year they spend funding the State Police patrolling the roadway. The $60 million is now a cost the state will now have to carry.

"Other roadways don't pay for the State Police that police those roadways," said Governor Cuomo.

Governor Cuomo applauded the authority's plan and called the toll hike counterproductive for economic development. And while it will also cut 361 positions, those that opposed the initial increase agree it would have been detrimental.

"It would have resulted in an increase in the cost of doing business an increase in the cost of goods and it's something we can't sustain at this time," said Heather Briccetti, the President of the Business Council of NYS.

"Had the 45 percent toll increase gone into place, we know several of our members that would have either shut their doors or would have looked at moving their businesses outside of New York," said Kendra Hems, the NYS Motor Truck Association President.

"The reason that we turned up the heat on this is because it absolutely is a job killing, it's a big tax increase is what it is. It's just a big tax to the consumer, everything that we touch comes in via truck into NYS," said Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin.

Assemblyman McLaughlin who worked with Assemblyman Jim Tedisco against this increase said he's now pushing for a forensic audit of the authority.

According to Governor Cuomo this new plan will prevent a toll hike for about three years.

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