By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie unveiled his plan Thursday, Jan. 6, to pay for road, bridge and transit projects throughout the state. It doesn’t include tax increases or toll increases.
The $8 billion, five-year transportation spending plan relies mostly on money from the state’s general fund, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and bonding. The program also calls for using money the Port Authority had planned to apply to a Hudson River tunnel project. Christie cancelled the project last fall.
Christie’s administration has been working on a plan to bail out the nearly-bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund. Money for new projects is due to run dry this year as payments on past debt drain all of its $900 million annual revenue.
Differing from the state’s existing transportation plan, which relies heavily on borrowing, Christie said during a news conference that his plan will increase debt by about half as much.
The Republican governor said in a statement that it is “a sensible and responsible plan that prioritizes vital transportation projects, while limiting the already heavy debt burden carried by the taxpayers of our state.”
Critics say the governor’s plan relies on $3.6 billion in new debt, which he campaigned against, and a one-time shot in the arm with money that was intended for the scuttled Access to the Region’s Core commuter rail tunnel.
“The governor’s plan to keep the TTF afloat calls for issuing billions of dollars in new bonded debt, all without voter approval,” Assembly Transportation Chairman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, said in a statement.
Christie’s plan will need legislative approval to be fully implemented.
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