NYC mayor clashes with governor on $1 billion taxi plan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City's financial perils have worsened because the state governor is rejecting a bill that would raise $1 billion by selling taxi medallions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Thursday.
The clash has prompted a rare -- for Bloomberg -- public tussle with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.
The mayor, a political independent, usually avoids bashing other politicians. For example, in the past few days he has said he sympathizes with the governor who just raised income taxes on millionaires -- a policy the mayor has long opposed.
The money raised by the taxi medallion sale would help the city cope with next year's $2 billion budget gap, and the $3.8 billion deficit in the following year.
"We have $5 billion deficits we're trying to close, and $1 billion would make a very big difference in terms of how we meet our obligations to balance the budget," the mayor told reporters.
Cuomo late Wednesday said he would veto the bill to sell 2,000 taxi medallions because it did not require 100 percent of the new cabs to be specially equipped to handle wheelchairs.
Also unresolved was whether livery cars, whose trips are booked ahead of time, should be able to freely pick up riders at the airports and be specially equipped for wheelchairs, Cuomo said, according to a video of his news conference posted on the web site: here
"There's a myriad of issues and they are all significant," Cuomo said. "They are not resolved," he said.
But Julie Wood, a mayoral spokeswoman said: "We had reached agreement on the accessibility issue and the agreement was to make the new medallions 100 percent accessible." The issues about livery cars were also settled, she said.
The mayor also has blasted taxi drivers for focusing almost entirely on Manhattan and often refusing to take passengers to Harlem and the outer boroughs of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. "It's been a disgrace and we have to do something about that," Bloomberg said. The new medallions would be concentrated outside of Manhattan.
Cuomo said the taxi bill could be revisited in January or February. "At this point, that's probably the most likely scenario," he said.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay)
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