Don’t scrape more money from plates

There are 75 million reasons for New York to make the state’s drivers get new license plates — one for each dollar the state expects to make from a scheme released last week in the guise of a fun new contest to choose the state’s new license plate design.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the new plates are necessary because license plate readers used by police departments and the state’s EZ Pass system sometimes can’t read older designs, in particular those that are peeling because the state has stuck with a faulty contractor for the last four years.

Mandating new plates for a good reason makes sense, but the state’s insistence on a $25 license plate replacement fee and an additional $20 fee to keep a current license plate number do not. Several of the state’s media outlets have noted that the license plates are made for 65 cents each by inmates at the Auburn Correctional Facility. Why is a fee between $25 and $45 necessary, again, for something the state is foisting upon the driving public?

It’s already pretty expensive to drive in New York state. Most of us have the cheapest of the state’s driver’s licenses, the Class D license, at a cost of $64.50 per renewal. Commercial driver’s licenses cost $164.50, a Class E license for buses or light trucks costs $112.50, and a class M or MJ license for a motorcycle costs $72.50. The cost to register a vehicle ranges from $26 to $71 every two years, depending on a vehicle’s weight.

We’re spending $90 every couple of years to the state for the right to drive on roads that are far from the best in the nation. Then add either $25 or $45 on top of that for license plates the state has made for 65 cents each.

Of course, the plan sounds great for the state, which stands to make $75 million off of the exchange while using the cover of EZ Pass, public safety and a fun statewide contest to throw the public off of its scent. We hope our elected officials — both Democratic and Republican — stand up for state residents here. Change out the old plates for new plates as vehicle registration renewals happen naturally, and don’t make New Yorkers pay one red cent more than the state’s cost to make the license plates.

New York reaches deeply enough into our pockets. Enough is enough.