FUNDING: New Jersey’s transpo funding plan falling off course

Lacking results, cash approach being questioned by state legislators

Funding News New Jersey Record April 04, 2013
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In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to spend $3.8 billion for road, bridge and rail projects in 2014 is starting to take some verbal hits.


Sen. Paul Sarlo, chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, is wondering where the money will be coming from, and is concerned tax payers will be the one carrying much of the financial load. Christie originally mapped out a five-year plan that was supposed to rely more on straight cash than borrowing. A little over $324 million was expected to come from money that was marked for the cancelled Trans-Hudson Tunnel, and according to Sarlo New Jersey was supposed to have already spent $702 million in cash for transportation projects, yet has only coughed up $66 million.


“Are we going awry from that plan?” he asked Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson.


Sarlo, however, is more concerned about the state’s plan to borrow $254 million up front in exchange for paying higher interest rates.


“It’s a little bit troubling and a little bit concerning to me,” he said. “We’re taking money up front only to pay a higher interest rate over the life of the bond.”


Simpson responded by saying borrowing has to be part of the mix, but when Sarlo questioned where New Jersey would find new funding resources next year, all Simpson could say was, “We’ll deal with next year next year.”


For the first time ever, none of the money generated from the state’s gas tax will go toward transportation projects this year. Instead, it will be used to pay off the debt from past borrowing.

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