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Republican leaders bemoan Cuomo’s license plate redesign as money grab, say he’s rigging the vote in favor of bridge named after dad

2019-08-20

Potential New York license plates; residents can vote for their favorite design.

Gov. Cuomo’s push to redesign the state’s vehicle tags is turning into a veritable Plate-gate.

Republican state lawmakers on Tuesday decried the Department of Motor Vehicle’s contest allowing residents to vote on the license plate’s new look, calling it a money grab that hurts taxpayers and alleging the governor is rigging the contest to favor a design featuring the new Tappan Zee Bridge — which is named after his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

The DMV on Monday revealed five proposed designs for the new license plates, three of which prominently feature the Statue of Liberty and another one containing a small silhouette of the monument.

“I think he’s trying to divide the Statue of Liberty vote so that the ... Mario Cuomo Bridge wins,” state GOP chairman Nick Langworthy said Tuesday at a press conference in Albany. “My daughter’s middle name is Liberty. I would love to see the Statue of Liberty on the New York license plate.”

Langworthy and other Republican leaders were more concerned over a new rule requiring car owners to pay a $25 fee to replace their plates if they’re more than 10 years old. Former Gov. David Patterson tried a similar move in 2009 in an effort to close a state budget gap, but backed down amid backlash from Republicans.

Cuomo’s office on Monday said there were roughly three million New York license plates that are more than a decade old — requiring drivers to replace them would quickly add a cool $75 million to the state’s coffers.

State Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan (R-L.I.) said on Tuesday the plate change requirement was “the latest example of Albany’s nickel-and-diming of hardworking middle-class taxpayers.”

Cuomo responded to the criticism by noting that the new plate design will be easier to track with license plate reader technology used on the state’s tollways, bridges and the congestion pricing program that’s coming to Manhattan in 2021.

“If it (the license plate) doesn’t work with E-ZPass, then we have a real talk about a money grab, we have the opposite problem,” the governor told reporters Tuesday. “This (the plate redesign) is saving consumers in the long term.”

That explanation did not satisfy Langworthy, who argued that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for problems with the license plate redesign.

Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi took issue with Langworthy’s criticisms, calling him a mindless supporter of President Trump.

“Langworthy, like the rest of the Trumpers, chose to bury their head in the sand and focus on insane conspiracy theories,” said Azzopardi. “It’s sad.”