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Cuomo slams critics of controversial license plate fee while DMV offers to tap brakes on plan


New Yorkers are being asked to vote for their favorite among these five possible new state license plates posted on the Gov. Cuomo's website.

ALBANY ? Gov. Cuomo pushed back Thursday against critics of his controversial plan to force drivers to swap out old license plates and charge them a $25 fee — while his own administration admitted the scheme could use a tune up.

Cuomo, who has repeatedly argued new license plates are necessary to work with cashless tolling sensors, challenged lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to take action if their so unhappy with the new charge.

“It’s been in law every year for 10 years,” Cuomo said during an interview on WAMC radio. “Why didn’t you change the fee? I didn’t set the $25. It’s been there since before I was governor. You passed it. It’s your fault. You want to come back on a special session and change it? Come tomorrow. I would welcome you.”

The governor failed to mention that the 2009 statue does not set the exact fee for new plates — it simply calls for any new fee “not to exceed” $25.

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder issued his own statement later in the day criticizing opponents of the plan, while at the same time vowing to work with lawmakers to come up with a new process for assessing aging plates.

Because the plate replacement plan does not go into effect until April, Schroeder said, there’s time for the DMV and the legislature to work out alternatives. “We support reducing costs wherever possible,” Schroeder said.

The plan, which the DMV announced last week, was rolled out in the form of an online contest to choose a new license plate design.

Republicans and Democrats alike have cast the new license plate plan and its $25 fee as a cash grab.

Sens. David Carlucci and James Skoufis, Democrats whose districts include parts of Rockland County, denounced the proposal and have called for legislation that would repeal the fee.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) and Sen. Robert Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) introduced their own bill that would bar the DMV from requiring a fee when the design of the state license plate is changed.

Sen. James Tedisco (R-Schenectady) on Thursday called for hearings on the plan.