Says 10-cent fee tantamount to a tax
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The City Council’s proposal to make New Yorkers pay a dime for every plastic and paper bag they get at the supermarket is absurd, a Brooklyn state senator charged this week.
State Sen. Simcha Felder was one of the first lawmakers to come out strongly against the council’s idea. He issued a statement on March 26, the same day the council initiative was announced.
“I was disheartened to learn that this absurd plastic bag tax legislation requiring consumers to pay 10 cents for paper and plastic bags at retail and grocery stores has once again reared its ugly head in the City Council. This legislation, should it become law, will place an undue financial burden on countless New Yorkers who are still reeling from MTA and toll increases, rising food costs, and soaring gasoline prices,” Felder said.
Felder (D-Borough Park-Midwood) charged that the 10-cent fee is “nothing more than a tax disguised as an eco-friendly initiative,” and accused the council of “looking to raise money on the backs of hard-working and struggling New Yorkers.”
The current bill, sponsored by Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) and Councilwoman Margaret Chin (D-Chinatown) marks the third time the city has sought to impose a fee on plastic bags. In 2008, then-mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to charge six cents a bag for the use of plastic bags. Felder, who was a Borough Park councilman at the time, opposed the move. The fee was never implemented “I opposed the measure back then and still disapprove of it today,” he said.
Lander introduced a plastic bag fee bill last August. The measure did not come up for a vote.
But Lander and Chin may have more luck this time around. The New York Observer reported that the Chin-Lander bill already has 19 co-sponsors on the council. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has not yet endorsed the legislation.
Lander denied that the plastic bag fee is a tax. He argued that the revenue generated by the plastic and paper bags will go to the merchants, not to the city. “They’re selling you a product just like any other product they sell,” he told the Observer.
The bill’s sponsors said the legislation is being done in the interests of improving the city’s environment and to cut trash disposal costs.
New Yorkers throw away 1 billion plastic bags a year and it costs the city $10 million a year to ship the used bags to landfills, the New York Post reported.