Corzine’s Toll Road Plan in the Works for Years

From our friends at Millenium Radio:

If you think Governor Jon Corzine’s Financial Restructuring and Debt Reduction proposal is an entirely new plan, think again. A look back to the year 2005 reveals Corzine has been mulling the idea of doing something on a very grand scale for a very long time.

In July 2005, then-United States Senator and candidate for Governor, Jon Corzine was talking about ways to replenish the fiscally struggling Transportation Trust Fund. He said, “Selling long-term assets for a long-term acquisition of additional assets, capital assets, is a strategy that I think makes some sense.” He was asked if increasing tolls should be explored as well. Corzine answered, “I would like to look at other means of finding the way to fund this Transportation Trust Fund without making New Jersey even less affordable…..I guarantee you we will find a way to do that and the last resort is the gas tax. It’s going to be a complicated resolution of a problem, but we can make it happen.”

A “Corzine for Governor,” press release dated July 11, 2005 reads, “Given the recent spike in oil and gas prices that are squeezing family budgets, we must find other alternatives to raising the gas tax. As this report clearly highlights, we cannot simply enact stop-gap solutions that just buy time until the next crisis. We need fundamental reform. For example, we must explore new ideas such as repositioning assets, including state-owned land adjacent to train stations and major state highways to allow us to make critical transportation investments.”

Under the Governor’s current plan there will be no toll increases in 2008 or 2009, the year before and the year of the next gubernatorial election. In 2010, tolls will be hiked 50% plus the rate of inflation for 08 and 09. The tolls will be increased by 50% every four years after that while also factoring in the rate of inflation.

The Corzine Administration uses $1.21 as the average a toll road commuter pays per day. Under the plan, in 2010 that would go up to $2.05. In 2014, the total would be $3.46. In 2018, it will be $5.84 and in 2022, the final year of the scheme the total will be $9.86. That means a toll road commuter will be paying more than eight times what he or she is paying today to take the same ride in 2022. Tolls would continue to be increased at the combined rate of inflation every four years until the 75-year life of the plan is over.

Corzine wants to pay at least half of $32 billion in state debt and fund transportation projects for 75 years by creating a nonprofit corporation to manage toll roads and borrow up to $38 billion.

The Governor has been hinting at deep and painful spending cuts which he vows to unveil in his Budget Address next week. Last week, Corzine warned that if the State doesn’t get its fiscal house in order, property taxes could skyrocket, college tuitions could soar and hospitals could close. New Jersey has long suffered with chronic financial woes and it is reasonable to surmise Corzine knew of these problems in 2005 as well, but that hasn’t stopped State spending from rising with him at the helm.

Corzine inherited a State Budget of $27.9 billion when he took office in 2006. His first spending plan totaled $30.8 billion and the current budget stands at $33.5 billion. That’s a 20.1% increase under Corzine’s watch. He now insists the State must slash $2.5 billion just to freeze spending at the current $33.5 billion level.

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