ALBANY -- Local state legislators who have slammed the Cuomo administration's plans to require new license plates with a $25 fee were claiming victory on Tuesday as the Governor's Office said it wants to negotiate the matter.
"I am pleased to see that the governor has announced he will not move forward with a mandatory $25 fee for new license plates," said state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam. "This is a big win for hardworking people and families this would have hurt."
"It's a victory for taxpayers!," said state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, who has been among the most vocal critics.
But whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo's position has actually changed in the last three weeks is unclear, since state Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder said in a statement on Aug. 29 that he wanted to negotiate the matter with the Legislature, which had been feeling the heat from constituents. His statement came barely a week after Cuomo first proposed the plate replacement plan.
"If the Legislature can agree to a cost-effective and practical plate inspection mechanism to determine what plates are still in good operating condition after the 10-year life and thus do not need to be replaced, we would welcome the opportunity to be cooperative," Schroeder said in a statement at the time.
Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi largely echoed that on Tuesday, and said the administration "has been saying the same thing for weeks."
"As the DMV commissioner said weeks ago, this proposal isn't going forward as we have committed to working with the Legislature to create a plan that ensures plates are readable by law enforcement and cashless tolling systems and creates a process where plates older than 10 years are inspected and, if still readable, can be kept," Azzopardi said in a statement.
Tedisco said he wants a clearer statement from the governor. With up to 3 million license plates to be replaced over the next two years, Tedisco has estimated the state would profit by $70 million, given a $25 per plate fee.
"While the governor's spokesman is intimating this, I'd still like to hear directly from the governor that no motorist with good, readable plates will have to pay $25 for new ones," Tedisco said.
Earlier Tuesday, the Siena College Research Institute released a poll that showed 60 percent of New York's registered voters opposed the plan that would have mandated the replacement of all license plates that are more than 10 years old, and that 75 percent think the $25 fee -- with an additional $20 for this who want to keep their same plate number -- is "unfair."
"New Yorkers of every stripe -- regardless of party, region, gender, race or age -- oppose the new requirement to surrender license plates that are at least a decade old for newly designed state license plates," said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg. "At least two-thirds of voters from every party, region, gender, race or age group say the $25 license plate fee is unfair."