A Column of News & Comment by Senator James L. Seward
Death by a thousand cuts. Nickel and dime. If those adages come to mind when you think of New York State government, you are not alone. Now the latest example: the governor’s push to require millions of drivers to buy new license plates, needed or not.
Recently, the governor’s office launched a statewide survey to select a new license plate design. On the surface, this appears to be a fun contest (although there are several questions regarding the plate designs) but the fine print reveals what this really is – a massive cash grab.
This is the language directly from the governor’s press release:
Beginning April 2020, through the plate replacement program, as customers renew their vehicle registrations over the next two years, those with license plates that are 10-years-old or older will be issued new plates. The current $25 license plate replacement fee will be added to the cost of the vehicle owner’s registration renewal. Customers may also keep their current license plate number for an additional $20 fee.
Whether you need a new plate or not you will be forced to pay $25 on top of your vehicle registration fee, along with another $20 if you want to keep your current plate number. It is estimated that about 3 million New Yorkers will be forced to purchase new plates over the next two years generating $75 million. Eventually, every motorist will have to fork over the new fee.
Add this to the $4.6 billion in taxes and fees imposed in this year’s budget by the governor and the Democrat-led legislature, and it the cost really adds up. New taxes on internet purchases and grocery bags. A new commuter tax. The elimination of the much-needed property tax rebate checks. And, now $25-$45 a pop for every vehicle New York families put on the road.
Back in 2009, our governor at the time attempted a similar scheme. I joined with county clerks and Republican legislators to fight the fee and our strong opposition, along with public outcry, forced the governor to drop his plan.
Now it is time to stand up again. I am urging the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to terminate this misguided plan and revoke any requirement forcing New Yorkers to pay for new license plates they simply don’t need. You can voice your opposition as well by signing my online petition available on my website at www.seward.nysenate.gov.
Along with fighting this license plate fee hike, I am working on a legislative fix to prevent this situation from coming up again in the future. I am co-sponsoring legislation (S.6663) that would require the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner to waive the $25 fee for any license plate mandated for replacement by the state due to a design change.
As I have stated in the past, New York ranks first in the nation for people moving out of state, and 40 percent of current New Yorkers believe they can no longer afford to live here. State government needs to pay attention to those facts and change course. Raising taxes and constantly enacting new fees will only exacerbate the problems we are now facing.
During this past legislative session, I advocated for a number of proposals to make New York a more affordable state. Policies like:
- A comprehensive package of tax cuts to help millions of hardworking New Yorkers;
- Help for small businesses including a plan to cut taxes and allow small businesses to participate in the STAR Program;
- A loan forgiveness program for recent college graduates who choose to stay and work in New York;
- An end to unfunded mandates and an assurance that no new laws will be approved in Albany that pass costs on to our local governments and schools, and ultimately, our taxpayers;
- A two-percent cap on state spending.
I will continue to fight for these policies moving forward and oppose blatant cash grabs like this license plate scheme.