New York governor defends blocking plan that would toll Manhattan drivers to pay for subway repairs

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday defended her decision to block a plan to reduce New York City traffic and raise billions for its ailing subway system through a new toll on Manhattan drivers — but offered little detail on how she would replace the program’s financial and environmental benefits.

In her first public appearance since announcing she was indefinitely pausing the “congestion pricing” toll, Hochul maintained the move was driven by economics and conversations with New Yorkers, particularly people at a Manhattan diner she frequents.

“I can’t do anything right at this time that would also suck the vitality out of this city when we’re still fighting for our comeback,” she told reporters at a news conference announced four minutes before it was set to start Friday night in Albany.

Hochul this week suggested raising taxes on businesses to make up for the toll revenue. The proposal immediately sparked criticism that higher taxes would hurt the city’s ongoing rebound from COVID-19 and run counter to her rationale for halting the program. Lawmakers eventually rejected the tax hike plan.

The governor, who released a pre-recorded video statement on Wednesday pausing the program, had previously been a

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