Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Tuesday delaying the implementation of a 5-cent fee on carry-out bags in New York City. 

Though the measure would create a one-year moratorium for the fee to take effect, the surcharge would have to be re-approved by a newly elected city Council. The fee would have taken effect on Wednesday.

In a 929-word statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo couched the approval of the bill with calls for statewide action to address plastic bags.

“As a New Yorker, I have reeled in numerous plastic bags while fishing in the Hudson and off Long Island,” Cuomo said in the statement.

“I have seen plastic bags in the trees while hiking in the Adirondacks and driving down the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. It is a statewide challenge. As such, a statewide solution is the most appropriate way to address this issue. Questions as to what the statewide solution should be are very much in debate: should the State ban paper and plastic carry-out products? Is a tax the best approach? If so, at what level and who should be the beneficiary? Should the State be obligated to supply reusable bags for a period of time during a transition so that low-income consumers are not unduly financially burdened through the process?”

The statement itself does not explicitly announce his signature for the moratorium bill; his office confirmed the bill was approved.

Cuomo added he was sympathetic to the support from environmental groups who want to cut down on plastic bag waste, but also the argument the fee amounts to a regressive tax.

“Most objectionable is that the law was drafted so that merchants keep the five cent fee as profit, instead of the money being used to solve the problem of plastic bags’ environmental impact – essentially amounting to a $100 million per year windfall to merchants,” he said.

The measure had been backed by the Democratic-led Assembly and the Republican-controlled Senate with bipartisan margins, making a veto unlikely.

In place of the city-based surcharge, Cuomo is forming a “task force” to take review how to reduce waste.

“This Task Force will be different than usual as this matter requires expeditious action,” Cuomo said. “I will ask the Senate and the Assembly to appoint Co-Chairs with me so that the recommendation can be quickly legislated. Local governments and stakeholders will also be included. By the end of this year, this Task Force will conclude with a report and proposed legislation. I look forward to New York State leading the way on this issue.”