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Sunday, July 14, 2024

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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Congestion pricing pause costs NY jobs, economic opportunities

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024   

New York is seeing ripple effects from Gov. Kathy Hochul pausing "congestion pricing."

The Metropolitan Transit Authority halted numerous capital projects like Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades at subway stations and track replacements. The pause is costing the state 100,000 jobs congestion pricing's $15 billion in revenue would have paid for.

Rachael Fauss, senior policy adviser for Reinvent Albany, said Hochul's decision has effects beyond New York State.

"Every single Congressional district in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut have companies that do business with the MTA," Fauss pointed out. "Those are jobs that the MTA creates. The vast majority of them are from its capital program."

Talks are ongoing to get congestion pricing back up and running. It could have a lower toll, but it will not stop the backlash the program faces. Other states, municipalities, and organizations filed lawsuits related to the program. The outer boroughs and the state of New Jersey would all have seen increased pollution due to congestion pricing but the transit authority was planning to use program revenues for mitigation work.

Some feel Hochul's decision was a shortsighted political move. The governor cited the toll for drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street as a major reason for pausing the program. Fauss noted it means future projects could result in delays at best and cuts at worst.

"They are going to have to cut 'state of good repair' projects and those are the things that keep the system working," Fauss emphasized. "If they can't fund state of good repair projects, that means more delays, worse service because the system is more likely to break."

Along with lost jobs, the pause will cost workers more than $3 billion in lost wages. Several groups including legal advocates and the New York City Comptroller are exploring pathways to enact the program. Some feel not putting the program in action violates state law and the 2021 "Green Amendment."


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