Task force pushes privatization in New Jersey

Panel recommends selling toll collection, rest areas and other transportation services to highest bidders

News The Star-Ledger July 12, 2010
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The idea of more privatization may be a taxing one to those in New Jersey.

A task force assembled by Gov. Chris Christie, and led by former U.S. representative Richard Zimmer, says the state could save $210 million annually through privatized services that includes toll collection.

The report, which was released on July 9, was not well received.

“It’s becoming clear this governor has not met a fee hike on average New Jerseyans that he couldn’t embrace,” State Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) told The Star-Ledger. “Fee is just another three-letter word for tax.”

State agencies will now review the report and request proposals from interested stakeholders. New Jersey has attempted to privatize before, and Democrats were quick to point out the checkered past.

“Our history with privatization is dotted with instances where we’ve had to go back and spend more just to clean up mistakes,” State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) told The Star-Ledger.

The task force has recommended that the state outsource toll collection to a private company, which would work a payroll that is half of the current level. The state also might consider selling the naming rights for the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway service areas as well as having private companies handle rest areas along Rte. 80, 78 and 295.

Privatizing bus maintenance and parking facility operations also has been suggested.

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