After many years of overspending by both Republican and Democratic administrations, NJ state finds itself in a fiscal mess. Instead of tackling the root cause of a bloated state government, our governor has launched a plan to transfer debt and to squeeze more money out of the taxpayers.
The summary of the plan is that the state will create two state owned non-profit companies that will manage highway maintenance and toll collection for the state. These new companies will be used to hide debt and to increase toll collections.
The Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) will be created with a concession agreement with the NJ Turnpike Authority. This agreement will include an initial payment and future periodic payments to the NJ Turnpike Authority. The initial payment by the PBC shall be made by the PBC issuing bonds. The payments made shall be used by the state to pay off existing state owned debt. In effect this scheme shall transfer debt from the state to the state owned PBC.
The second company is the Public Interest Corporation (PIC). It shall be created solely for the purpose of managing and approving the PBC board members. According to Corzine’s sales pitch, the PIC shall consist of “a majority representing stakeholder interests”.
The plan includes a 75 year plan of increasing the tolls by 50% (plus a 3% annual CPI increase) every four years. Based on his numbers the current $0.70 toll on the parkway will be $1.20 in 2010, $1.90 in 2014, $3.20 in 2018 and $5.40 in 2022.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Inc. is already chartered as a Public Benefit Corporation by the state of NJ. It has around 3,500 employees. Each of its employees are treated like state employees and participate in the state pension system. One can only assume that employees of the two new companies will also participate in the state pension system.
The NJ Turnpike Authority charter expires in 2009. The plan does not get rid of the NJ Turnpike Authority, rather it adds additional layers of bureaucracy to an already over bloated system.
We demand that the Corzine administration perform a top to bottom evaluation of every department and agency for efficiency improvements. Every possible cut in government must be considered. Several agencies can be done away with either by merging their functions with existing agencies or leaving those functions to the private sector.
“But pigs will fly over the Statehouse before there’s a realistic level of new taxes or spending cuts that can fix this mess”
– Governor Jon Corzine
All citizens should consider attending the town hall meetings that Corzine is holding to discuss his proposal. NJ101.5 has formed a Flying Pigs Coalition and is planning rallies, visit their page and join the Coalition.