Letter City Budget

Letter to Governor on 5¢ Plastic Bag Fee

February 08, 2017

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
Executive Chamber
State Capitol
Albany, NY  12224

Dear Governor Cuomo,

The Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) urges you to veto A.04883/S.04158.  This bill would place a moratorium on a 5 cent fee on certain plastic bags in New York City until January 1, 2018 and require the city to reauthorize, modify, or repeal the current law. The fee was enacted by the New York City Council in 2016 and the effective date has already been pushed back from October 1, 2016 to February 15, 2017. 

The CBC supports use of financial incentives to reduce waste generation. New York City disposes of roughly 10 billion plastic bags each year at a cost of $12.5 million.[1] Plastic bag fees in other cities have been successful in reducing the number of bags that end up in the waste stream; Washington, D.C. for example, saw usage decline by more than 50 percent. Other local governments in New York, such as Long Beach and Suffolk County, are moving forward with similar fees. In addition to reducing disposal costs, using fewer plastic bags would reduce the environmental damage associated with their manufacture and disposal.

There are concerns the fee will unduly burden low-income New Yorkers. The City’s proposal addresses these concerns.  First, purchases made through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, more commonly known as food stamps) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are exempt. Second, the City has been distributing reusable bags at no cost. Finally, New Yorkers who simply switch to using reusable bags would face no additional cost.

The goal of the program is not to generate revenue for retailers, but instead to reduce the use of these bags while providing significant fiscal and environmental benefits. Please veto this bill.


Carol Kellermann's signature in blue ink




Carol Kellermann


  1. Testimony of Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, before the New York City Council Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, Intro No. 209 – A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to reducing the use of carryout bags (November 19, 2014) http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/View.ashx?M=F&ID=3386792&GUID=5E00AFAF-8A25-481C-BD84-16AB695BBC78.