Legalized recreational marijuana could bring in an estimated $700 million in annual tax revenues for New York state. That cash could fund any number of projects in the state, but if a group of local lawmakers get their way, the financial windfall following legalization will be put toward saving New York City decrepit subway system.
Recently, a panel developed to find new ways to revitalize New York's aging subway system has floated the idea of using cannabis taxes to bolster the city's infrastructure. However, there has been no commitment from the state legislature to earmark cannabis taxes for improving public transportation in the Big Apple.
"There are a lot of needs we have that the new revenue need to be considered for," said state Senator Michael Gianaris (D), who is overseeing the panel.
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has already said he hopes to start the process of legalizing recreational cannabis in New York in the New Year. His office has yet to comment on how the tax money might be spent. But, as far as Mitchell Moss - Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management is concerned, cannabis taxes would be the absolute best way to raise money for the subways.
"No new revenue source can match a tax on weed," Moss said. "New Yorkers deserve a subway system that is as productive as they are. It is time for New York to legalize and tax cannabis—and to designate the revenues for mass transit."
A full update of New York's subways would cost an estimated $40 billion. So even if the entire annual revenues from marijuana taxes go towards the subway's renovations it would still need to be part of a bigger plan. Still, some lawmakers think cannabis is the easiest and most agreeable way to begin funding it.
"One source of funding is not going to be enough," said state Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D). "Why would we not try to include as many funding streams as possible without having to raise taxes, which a lot of people quite frankly are afraid of doing?"
Legal weed, no tax hikes and a fixed up subway system? Sounds like a pretty good deal to us.
H/T: The Growth Op