Democratic and Republican insiders agree on one thing: New York's tolls are too high and create a burden that saddles some citizens more than others, that's the finding in our latest Blue Empire and Red Empire surveys.
Influential Republicans were outspoken on the issue, with nearly 80 percent saying they felt tolls were too high in the state. Meanwhile, more than 63 percent of Democrats surveyed shared the same sentiment. In fact, only 3.5 percent of Dems said they strongly disagreed that tolls are too high, while zero percent of Republicans disagreed to that extent.
The survey results follow several toll hikes in the past few years for area river crossings that have raised costs significantly for local motorists. At the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday told Hudson Valley residents that a $5.2 billion plan to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge has gotten the backing of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. That plan would be funded by federal cash and tolls that some say could hit $14 a trip by 2017.
The state is also considering a 45 percent toll hike for trucks on the New York Thruway.
But insiders in both parties told Patch these hikes don't hit everybody the same way. In fact, the parties were statistically identical on this issue.
More than 60 percent of respondents in both parties said they disagree with the notion that the burden of toll hikes is shared equally while about 20 percent in each party said they agreed with statement.
Patch polled more than 250 respondents in early August as part of our Red Empire and Blue Empire political insiders polls. As of Aug. 20, 57 Democrats and 34 Republicans submitted answers.
Republicans Favors Businesses, Democrats Favor Drivers
Democrats and Republicans both overwhelming felt that tolls should be invested into creating public transportation, but when it came to what that infrastructure should benefit most, they didn't all agree.
Republicans favored business development in our poll, with 44 percent saying they felt any public transportation investment should support business and industry in the state, compared to nearly 27 percent who said that investments should be made in public transportation that simply reduce road traffic. Only 6 percent said that public transport should be created to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, Democrats surveyed leaned towards road traffic as their top issue, with 34 percent saying public transportation should unclog roads, 25 percent saying transit is needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions and 21 percent saying transit should focus on boosting business and industry.
Enough is Enough
With tolls hikes on the table for roadways, bridges and mass transit, most respondents called for some relief for state commuters.
About 63 percent of Democrats said the Metropolitan Transit Authority should abandon its plan to hike train, bus and subway fares in March intended to help trim its massive deficits. Republicans agreed, with 65 percent of respondents saying the MTA should not raise fares.
Democrats and Republicans also think regular audits need to be done to track the spending on toll dollars, with 82 percent of Dems and 97 percent of Republicans supporting that measure.
And though Republicans were near unanimous in favoring public-private partnerships to fund major bridge and road projects, they idea wasn't as unpopular with Democrats as you might expect. Nearly 50 percent said they would support these types of arrangements, while nearly 32 percent said they opposed them.
The Red Empire and Blue Empire Surveys
Our surveys are not a scientific random sample of any larger population but rather an effort to listen to a swath of influential local Republican and Democratic activists, party leaders and elected officials in New York. All of these individuals have agreed to participate in the surveys, although not all responded to this week's questions. Surveys were conducted between Aug. 1 and Aug. 20, 2012.
Patch will be conducting Red Empire State and Blue Empire State surveys throughout 2012 in hopes of determining the true sentiment of conservatives and liberals on the ground in New York. If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in a weekly surveys that last just a few minutes, please email Henry@patch.com.)
Red Empire Roster: Linda Cabral Marrero, Village of Ossining Mayoral Candidate, Pete Tripodi, Town of Ossining Councilman, Kim Izzarelli, 95th New York State Assembly District Candidate, Bob Terilli, Former Village of Ossining Trustee Candidate, Steve Dewey, Former Town of Ossining Councilman Candidate, John Murphy, Rockand County Legislator, Denis Troy, Orangetown Councilman, Paul Valentine, Orangetown Councilman, Tom Diviny, Orangetown Councilman, Tom Morr, Orangetown Councilman, Quinton Van Wynen, Pearl River Schools, Richie Bell, Head of the Pelham Republican Committee, Michael Recca, Westchester County Young Republicans, Michele Em, Activist, Steve Fuchs, Republican Town Committee Chairman, Elizabeth Bermel, Director of the Scarsdale Library, Jim Maisano, County Legislator, Ilyse Spertus, Former City Council Candidate, Peter Parente, Former Mayoral Candidate, Dennis Starr, Activist, Denise Ward, Attorney, Norm Rosenblum, Village of Mamaroneck Mayor, Lou Santoro, Village of Mamaroneck Deputy Mayor/Trustee, Maryanne Genovese, Party Chairwoman, Don Derrico, Party Chairman, Donald Sutherland, Republican Committee Secretary, Marlane Amelio, Councilwoman, Steve Malfitano, Councilman/Former Supervisor, Joe Cannella, Councilman, Luke Vander Linden, Bedford GOP Member, Robert Castelli, State Assemblyman, Lee Roberts, Bedford Town Supervisor, Don Scott, Bedford GOP Chair, Nan Hayworth, Congresswoman, Ed Day, Rockland County Legislator, Bob Axelrod, Clarkstown Republican Committee Chair, Christopher Carey, Rockland County Legislator, Frank Borelli, Clarkstown Town Councilman, Vincent Reda, Rockland County GOP Chair and Mitt Romney Lower Hudson Valley Campaign Coordinator, Matthew Slater, Vice President of Yorktown GOP, Terrence Murphy, Yorktown Councilman, Jennie Menton-Grasso, Community Member, Tony Grasso, Former Yorktown Councilman, Elizabeth Hudak, Southeast Councilwoman, Will Stephens, Former State Assemblyman, Jim Schoenig, Mayor for the Village of Brewster, Eric Cyprus, Vice Chair of Southeast Republican Committee, Terri Patton Stockburger, Village of Brewster Trustee, Bob Cullen, Southeast Councilman, Edwin Alvarez, Southeast Councilman, Michael Bartolotti, Chairman of Southeast Republicans, Robert Kirkwood, Former New Castle Supervisor Candidate, Gary Murphy, Activist, Judy McGrath, Activist, Robert Castelli, State Assemblyman, Robin Murphy, Activist, Christine Miscioscia, Former Tarrytown Trustee Candidate, Eleanor Miscioscia, Former Tarrytown Trustee Candidate, Philip E. Zegarelli, Former Sleepy Hollow Mayor, Jennifer Lobato-Church, Sleepy Hollow Trustee, George Lence, GOP Donor, Michael Smith, County Legislator, Terence Guerriere, White Plains Republican District Leader, Iris Pagan, Westchester County Women’s Republican Club, Bob Jackson, Former County Legislator, Ed Romaine, Suffolk County Legislator, Chris Talbot, Southold Town Councilman, John Galla, Riverhead GOP Chairman, Denis Noncarrow, Southold GOP Chairman, George Gabrielesen, Riverhead Town Councilman, Jim Wooten, Riverhead Town Councilman, Jesse Garcia, Chairman of Brookhaven GOP, Angelo Lomonte, Long Beach Zoning Board Member, Chris Wendt, Republican Supporter, Frank Scaturro, 4th Distruct Congressional Candidate, David McDonough, State Assemblyman, Gary Hudes, Hempstead Town Councilman, Jogi Giglio, Riverhead Town Councilwoman, Mark Epley, Southampton Village Mayor, William Wright, Southampton Town Republican Committee Chairman, Jane Bonner, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman, Joan Adams Owner of Pierian Consulting, Ari Kirschenbaum, Director of Chabad Prospect Heights & Fort Greene, Juan Reyes, Supporter, Vince Tabone, Supporter, Louis Perrotta III, Supporter, Christopher Allred, Supporter, Scott Russell, Southold Town Supervisor, Robert Creighton, Smithtown Town Councilman, Peter McGreevy, Commodore at Orient Yacht Club, Ralph Ekstrand, Farmingdale Mayor, Dina DeGiorgio, North Hempstead Councilwoman, Dave Franklin, Port Washington Police Commissioner, Thomas J. Kehoe, Northport Village Trustee, Warren Church, Syosset American Legion Commander, Linda Manning-Koziatek, Realtor, Glenn Nocera, President of the Brooklyn Young Republican Club, Joe Bloecker, East Hampton Town Trustee, Don Derham, Federalist's Society of Long Island, Betty Manzella, Vice Chair of the Brookhaven Republicans, Dan Panico, Town of Brookhaven Councilman.
Blue Empire Roster: Sue Donnelly, Town of Ossining Supervisor, Gwynn Schroeder, Civic Leader/Environmentalist, Al Krupski, Southold Town Councilman, Marie Domenici, Environmentalist/Former Political Candidate, Kara Hahn, Suffolk County Legislator Christopher Hahn, Fox News Contributor, Kathy Matthews, Poquott Village Trustee, Arona Kessler, Vice President of Three Village Democratic Club, Jeanne Frankl, Chairwoman of East Hampton Democratic Committee, Christopher Kelley, Past Chairman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee, Eric Jurist, Voter, Claudia Borecky, North and Central Merrick Civic Association President, Michael Fagan, Long Beach City Councilman, Kevin Brady, Working Families State Assembly Candidate, Dave Denenberg, Nassau County Legislator, Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld, Brookhaven Town Councilman, Sylvia Kenard, 9th Congressional District Candidate, Jumaane Williams, NYC Councilman, Rhoda Jacobs, State Assemblywoman, Yvette Clark, U.S. Congresswoman, Mathieu Eugene, NYC Councilman, Renee Collymore, Party Leader, Olanike Alabi, District Leader, Walter Mosley, District Leader, Lucas Shapiro, Activist, Lincoln Restler, District Leader, Ede Fox, City Council Candidate, Raul Rothblatt, Prospect Heights Democrats for Reform, Nick Juravick, Kings County Democratic Committee Candidate, Carin Mirowitz, Prospect Heights Democrats for Reform, Peter Krashes, Neighborhood Activist, Gib Veconi, Kings County Democratic Committee Member, Danae Oratowski, Neighborhood Activist, Brad Lander, City Councilman, Velmanette Montgomery, State Senator, Craig Hammerman, Community Board Member, Joan Millman, State Assemblywoman, Marty Bernstein, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Henry Butler, Community Board Member, Maressa Ellis, Grievance Chair of 79th Pct. Community Council, Annette Robinson, State Assemblywoman, Robert Cornegy, District Leader, Colvin Grannum, Executive Director at Restoration Corp., Michael Feiner, Bayside Hills Civic Association President, Eileen Feiner, Bayside Hills Civic Association Member, Steve Behar, Democratic Consultant, Warren Schreiber, Bay Terrace Civic Association President, Tony Avella, State Senator, Edward Braunstein, State Assemblyman, Jerry Iannece, Community Board Chairman and Assembly Candidate, Daniel Squadron, State Senator, Eric McClure, Community Board Member, Doug Gordon, Community Board Member, Aaron Brashear, Community Board Member, John Burns, Community Board Member, Ryan Lynch, Community Board Member, Lauren Elvers, Collins Windsor Terrace Alliance, Andrew Hevesi, State Assemblyman, Toby Stavisky, State Senator, Robert Calarco, Suffolk County Legislator, Howard Knispel, Former Candidate for Smithtown Town Council, Ed Maher, Chair of the Smithtown Democratic Committee, Wayne Horsley, Suffolk County Legislator, Karen Koslowitz, NY City Councilwoman, Cesar Zuniga, Community Board Member, Eric Adams, State Senator, Jon Schneider, Past Chairman of the Brookhaven Democratic Committee, Mary Collins, Huntington Democratic Committee Chairwoman, Jon Cooper, Suffolk County Legislator, Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Nassau County Legislator, Steve Israel, U.S. Congressman, Judy Jacobs, Nassau County Legislator, Peggy May, Mineola Democratic Club, Keith Scalia, Former Candidate for Oyster Bay Town Supervisor, Patricia Maher, Activist, Ann Gallelli, Croton-on-Hudson Trustee, Bob Daraio, Ossining Trustee, Bill Hanauer, Ossining Mayor, Marlene Cheatham, Ossining Village Trustee, Don Peters, Former Yorktown Supervisor; owner of Sports Barn, Brendan Tully, Lawyer, Mike Kaplowitz, Westchester County Legislator, James Martorano, Attorney and former Yorktown Councilman, Kathleen Talbot, Peekskill City Councilwoman, Drew Claxton, Peekskill City Councilwoman, Mary Foster, Peekskill Mayor, Marina Ciotti, Chair of the Peekskill Democratic City Committee, Michael Kane, District Leader of the Peekskill Democratic City Committee, Richard Kavesh, Former Nyack Mayor, Steve Knowlton, Nyack Trustee, Doug Foster, Nyack Trustee, Jen Laird-White, Nyack Mayor, Audie Moran, Piermont Trustee, Nicole Doliner, Legislative Fiscal Analyst at Rockland County Legislature, Stephanie Hausner, Clarkstown Councilwoman, Paul Adler, Commercial Real Estate Professional, Joseph Coe, Young Democrats, Ken Zebrowski, State Assemblyman, Robert Dell, Orangetown Planning Committee Member, Andrew Stewart, Orangetown Supervisor, Christopher Smith, Orangetown Democratic Committee, Mark Svensson, Clinton Global Initiative University Mentor, Dennis Pilla, Mayor, Blanca Lopez, Activist, Gary Stracuzzi, Rye Town Chairman, Raymond Sculky, Rye Democratic Chair, Esteban Michaca, Hispanic Democrats of Westchester, Naomi Oppman, Former Democratic District Leader, Joe Dermin, Harrison Democratic Committee Chair, Louise Riveiro, Mount Pleasant Democratic Committee, John Nonna, Mount Pleasant Democratic Committee Co-Chair and former Westchester County Legislator, Richard Wishnie, Westchester County Democrats — Briarcliff Manor Chair, Peter Fiumefreddo, Mount Pleasant Democratic Committee Chair, Elise Kessler Mottel, New Castle Deputy Supervisor, Jean Farber, Mount Kisco Village Trustee, Peter Harckham, Westchester County Legislator, Mike Kaplowitz, Westchester County Legislator, William Serratore, Mount Kisco Democratic Chair, Andrew Falk, Democratic Candidate for the New York State Assembly, Victor Grossman, Chairman of Putnam County Democratic Committee, Paul Morini, Putnam County Legislature District 7 Candidate, Sam Oliverio, Putnam County Legislator, Marsha Waldman, Treasurer for Town of Carmel Democratic Committee, Jerry Ravnitzky, Member of the Carmel Democratic Committee, Neary Strong, Activist, Catherine Parker, Rye City Councilmember, George Latimer, State Assemblyman Running for State Senate, Rodney Brown, Democratic Party Chair, Steve Otis, State Assembly Candidate, Mark Lewis, Chair of the Democratic Town Committee, Miriam Danar, Activist, Peter Harckham, Westchester County Legislator, David Gabrielson, Bedford Town Councilman, Chris Burdick, Bedford Town Councilman, Jeffrey Morris, Lewisboro Democratic Committee, Yablon Bruce, Chair of the Bedford Democratic Committee, Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor, Peter Porcino, Ardsley Mayor, Peter Swiderski, Hastings Mayor, Tom Abinanti, State Assemblyman, Randy Klipstein, Activist, Mark Gilliland, Town Trustee, David A. Ford Sr., Black Democrats of Westchester, George Kevgas, President of Westchester Young Democrats, Reginald LaFayette, Westchester County Democratic Chairman, Beth Smayda, White Plains Common Council President, Thomas Caruso, John Martin, White Plains Common Council Member, Liz Shollenberger, White Plains Democratic City Committee Chair, Rita Malmud, Former White Plains Councilwoman, Benjamin Boykin, White Plains Common Council Member, Milagros Lecuona, White Plains Common Council Member, Peter Hoffman, Pelham Manor Committee Chair, Richard Fuller, Pelham Committee Chair, Ed Doty, Co-Chair of Pelham Democrats, Anne Field, Secretary of Pelham Democrats, Laura Morris, Pelham Village Trustee, Janet Gandolfo, Sleepy Hollow Village Attorney, Susan MacFarlane, Sleepy Hollow Trustee, Bruce Campbell, Sleepy Hollow Trustee, Drew Fixell, Tarrytown Mayor, Bjorn Olsson, Activist, Noam Bramson, Mayor, Marianne Sussman, Former, IDA Chairwoman, Barry Fertel, Councilman, Jared Rice, Councilman, Martin Sanchez, Business Owner, Anne McAndrews, Larchmont Mayor, Peter Fanelli, Larchmont Trustee, Jane Elkind Eney, Town of Mamaroneck Trustee, Abby Katz, Town of Mamaroneck Trustee, Nancy Seligson, Mamaroneck Town Supervisor, Kristen Stavisky, Rockland Democratic Committee Chair