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Cuomo Scraps License Replacement Program Amid Public Uproar

The state has scrapped the proposed license plate plan.
The state has scrapped the proposed license plate plan. Photo Credit: New York State

In the wake of a new Siena poll that found that about two-thirds of New Yorkers opposed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed license plate plan, his administration is hitting the brakes on the proposal to have vehicle owners pay for the new plates.

The plan called for drivers being forced to swap out their license plates if they were at least 10 years old for a $25 fee for new plates, regardless of their conditions. Drivers were also to be charged $20 to keep the current license plate number.

The proposal has come under fire, with politicians and New Yorkers alike expressing their displeasure over it, with many calling it a cash grab.

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, his administration said that it will "not be moving forward" with the license plate replacement plan.

The Siena poll found that by a 60-31 margin, New Yorkers were in opposition to the new plate proposal.

“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 create a process where plates older than 10 years are inspected and, if still readable, can be kept," Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo's senior adviser, and spokesman, said in a statement.

In addition to opposing the plan, 75 percent of New Yorkers also said that the $25 license replacement fee is unjust.

“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. The opposition is smaller with Democrats, New York City voters, and black, Latino and younger voters, however, a majority or plurality of each of those groups oppose this new requirement on motorists,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

“When it comes to the $25 license replacement fee, New Yorkers are even more united in their opposition. At least two-thirds of voters from every party, region, gender, race, or age group say the $25 license replacement fee is unfair. Bottom line message from voters to state: NO2PL8FEE,” Greenberg said. “Surprisingly, 40 percent of New Yorkers say they were aware of the late summer online poll to select the new license plate design, and 10 percent say they voted online to choose the new design.”

The plan had come under fire, with politicians speaking out against the proposal, including online petitions and a mock vote with faux license plate options disparaging the governor.

“This administration has more angles than a geometry book to get into the pockets of taxpayers," Sen. James Tedisco stated. "This License Plate Tax is truly highway robbery for the over-taxed and over-burdened taxpayers of New York State in the form of a new $70 million tax.

“Where is this $70 million windfall going and why should taxpayers not only have to foot the bill for the shoddy and inferior license plates created by 3M that are peeling but also for whatever other mystery projects this tax grab is funding. The Governor and DMV should do the right thing for taxpayers and revoke this license plate tax now.”

The announcement comes nine days after online voters chose a plate design among five potential designs.

The new license plates, which will begin to be rolled out in April 2020, includes images of the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, the Montauk Lighthouse and the New York City skyline.

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