New Jersey governor signs road funding bill

| 3/31/2006

Gov. Jon Corzine approved an $8 billion plan March 23 to keep New Jersey’s nearly bankrupt trust fund that pays for transportation up and running for another five years. It doesn’t allow for any increases in the state’s fuel taxes.

Senators voted 25-13 March 20 to send the measure to the Democratic governor. Assembly lawmakers approved it on a 48-28 vote March 16.

The new law, previously A2813, restructures some of the fund’s debt and clears the way for additional borrowing to finance up to $1.6 billion annually for road and rail projects. Currently, the fund gets $650 million.

Supporters said the plan allows New Jersey to continue to receive matching federal funds, which amount to $1.5 billion a year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“Funding critical transportation projects and introducing substantial reforms will ensure that New Jersey motorists can enjoy safe roads and mass transit improvements for years to come,” Corzine said in a written statement.

Opponents, many of them Republicans, said it will add to the state’s debt.

The short-term fix, they say, will force the state to pay an estimated $30 billion in interest on the new bonds during the next 30 years, The Star-Ledger reported.

The Corzine administration and mostly Democratic supporters have dubbed the plan the most politically realistic solution.