Tag Archives: MTA

Commuters May Receive The Same Tax Breaks as Drivers

Mass transit commuters should get the same tax break as people who drive to work, Sen. Charles Schumer said Tuesday.

The New York Democrat said he has high hopes for a measure that would allow bus, subway and commuter rail riders to deduct up to $250 a month from their taxable income next year.

Currently, the figure is $130. Before this year it had been as high as $245, Mr. Schumer said, matching the amount drivers are permitted to deduct from income for parking expenses.

But the figure for mass transit commuters was reduced for 2014, although the drivers’ break was extended. The tax breaks are available if employers participate in eligible programs.
Mr. Schumer’s bill “would restore parity between commuters and drivers,” the senator said at a White Plains news conference.

He predicted it would also be “a huge shot in the arm for the local economy.” He said it would also help the environment and even benefit drivers by reducing traffic.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Mayor de Blasio Incentives Unions to Reduce Health Costs

When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his first labor agreements with New York City unions this spring, he was sharply criticized for granting long-awaited wage increases in exchange for promises of unspecified though sizable savings on health care expenses.

Now, some of the specifics are coming into focus: City officials and union leaders say they hope to push municipal workers to use walk-in clinics more and emergency rooms less, order generic drugs more often than brand-name ones, and buy them through the mail rather than at retail pharmacies to achieve bulk discounts.

The city hopes the unions will agree to steer workers to use centralized, cheaper centers for blood tests, X-rays or M.R.I.s, rather than having those tests performed in doctors’ offices or at costly physician-owned facilities. Patients who resist could face higher copayments, while savings would be passed on to the city in lower premiums.

The cost-cutting comes with high stakes: If the city and unions are unable to save a total of $3.4 billion on health care by 2018, a mediator will be empowered to order increases in workers’ premiums to cover the shortfall, officials said.

As an added inducement, if the unions help the city exceed that goal, the first $365 million in additional savings would be distributed as lump-sum bonuses to workers, officials said. Any savings beyond that would be split evenly between the city and its employees.

In interviews, Harry Nespoli, chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, the umbrella group of city unions, and Robert W. Linn, the city’s labor relations commissioner, disclosed several of the cost-saving measures being discussed as the two sides draw closer to a deal.

For example, union officials are meeting with EmblemHealth, an insurer that covers many municipal union members, to negotiate increased access for employees to EmblemHealth’s more than 40 walk-in clinics across the city.

Arrangements like that could reduce costly emergency-room visits not only for the city’s 350,000 workers but also for their dependents — a total of about one million people, the officials said.

Missing from the labor contracts with teachers and other city workers that were announced beginning in May was any requirement for union members to begin contributing toward their health insurance premiums. That prompted some critics to say Mr. de Blasio was not being tough enough at the bargaining table.

Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the unions representing 5,400 Long Island Rail Road employees agreed that those workers would begin paying 2 percent of their wages toward their health coverage.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Pretax Money for Subway Fares May Become Required

Currently an optional benefit, this mandate would require many employers to establish the accounts. We’ve been assisting groups with these accounts for years, so look to us for assistance.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary

President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary