Government Playbook: Rename a Previously Rejected Tax, a ‘Green Fee’, and Try Again

Posted: Jul 27, 2012 3:33 PM

When government and its agencies are running deficits they will pull out all the tricks to get their hands on your money. Today’s example comes from New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering adding on a 'green fee' on each new MetroCard to encourage riders to recycle their cards.

The proposal for the $1 surcharge was contained in the agency's preliminary budget for next year.

The aim is to reduce the number of cards that are printed and discarded.

The surcharge would produce about $18 million a year for the MTA.

The agency prints and encodes an average of 160 million MetroCards a year at a cost of about $9.5 million. Printing fewer cards will save the MTA about $2 million.

This isn't the first time the cash-strapped MTA has proposed this fee.  In 2010, the mass transit agency considered a $1 surcharge on new MetroCards to help close an $800 million budget shortfall.

In 2010, multiple news reports catalogued the proposed $1 hike. Yet, at that time, none of those reports referred to the increase as a ‘Green Fee’ because it was presented to the public as simply a way to help close the budget deficit. Here is this year's description, straight from the proposed budget:

Intolerance in Academia
Walter E. Williams

MetroCard Green Fee and Cost Savings – As described in the July Plan, the MTA is implementing a $1.00 “green” fee for each new MetroCard bought in the subway system. The implementation of the “green” fee will be delayed from 2012 to 2013, and is projected to result in annual savings of $20 million. The MetroCard green fee cost savings estimate remains the same in the November Plan.

This post was authored by editorial intern Bill Vollono.