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Churchill: New license plates are Thruway robbery

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ALBANY — You've got to hand it to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Disguising a blatant money grab as a design competition takes a special kind of sneakiness.

I'm talking, of course, about the exciting opportunity to vote on five license plate designs that has been bestowed upon us, the overtaxed masses. Some news outlets initially reported on the contest, announced Monday, without mentioning that purchasing the plates will be mandatory for the three million New Yorkers who have plates at least 10 years old.

The cost? $25, plus $20 more if you want to keep your existing plate number.

If you assume that many drivers will want to avoid the hassle of memorizing a new combination of letters and numbers, the scheme will easily raise more than $100 million in its initial rollout, not to mention continuing additional annual revenue as more plates hit the 10-year mark. Even in New York, that's a lot of money.

So E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy had it exactly right when he called the vote "a revenue enhancer wrapped in a public relations ploy." Already, both Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature are saying much the same.

Not so, says the governor, who claims new plates........

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