State Senator James ?Sunny? McCullough and Republican Assembly candidates John Amodeo and Vince Polistina said it should come as no surprise that Governor Jon Corzine now admits he will spring his still-secret plan for an Atlantic City Expressway ?asset sale? on the Legislature and the taxpayers during the lame duck session following November?s election.
They said Corzine?s revelation was contained in a news report broadcast by Millennium Radio stations yesterday. Corzine said he hoped the lame duck Legislature would act on his scheme to sell state toll road assets in exchange for a quick infusion of money to balance next year?s state budget.
?What a shock,? said McCullough. ?This has been the worse kept secret in Trenton. It confirms what has been obvious to us for months. Corzine?s claim that he can?t release the plan now, so the voters can see the details before the election, is bogus beyond belief.?
?Corzine must have finally reached what was a foregone conclusion ? that people aren?t buying his flimsy excuse,? said Amodeo. ?Believe me, when the governor wants the answer to a legal question and is told by his staff he would have to wait months for the answer, heads would have rolled.?
?The fact of the matter is Corzine wanted to keep the plan hidden until after the election because he knows the details will be devastating for the Democrats, including our opponents? said Polistina. ?He doesn?t want to jeopardize their chances on November 6th because he is counting on their support after the election.?
On the Millennium Radio news report, the governor says “the sooner we get this out into the debate, both with the public and with the Legislature – the sooner, I hope, we will have financial stability in the state.” Corzine expresses hope that the deal can be sealed before the lame duck session ends in January. But he has a fallback plan. ?if we can’t get that done before lame duck’s over,? Corzine said, ?we’ll just continue.”
?Corzine and the Democrats are tying to delude the public into believing his secret monetization plan will cure all of New Jersey?s fiscal ills,? said McCullough. ?Just the opposite is true. This is the most irresponsible fiscal scheme ever concocted by the Democrats and, if they get away with it, New Jersey will find itself standing on a financial precipice from which there may be no return.?
McCullough, Amodeo and Polistina said the few details of Corzine?s plan that have been leaked indicate it will require automatic toll increases each year for generations to come.
?They say their goal is to raise $15 billion or more in bond revenue,? McCullough noted. ?But it will take between $20 billion and $25 billion to retire the debt because of interest payments. Where are the Democrats going to get the money? They will raise taxes, just as they have done 94 times in the past six years. Even now, they?re maneuvering behind the scenes to gather support for an increase in the gas tax after the election.?
Amodeo said an organization that has been raising red flags about the asset sale, Save Our Assets NJ, has estimated tolls will have to increase 150 percent to retire the bonds. ?The average roundtrip toll on the New Jersey Turnpike alone would cost an additional $3,750 a year,? Amodeo said, citing research conducted by the organization. ?It will cost motorists even more if they also take the Expressway to visit Atlantic City or have to use the Garden State Parkway.?
?Jim Whelan and his running-mates claim they don?t support the sale of toll road assets.? McCullough noted. ?But that didn?t stop Whelan from voting for a budget that contained language giving Corzine access to an unlimited sum of money to prepare for the sale, lease or monetization of state assets.?
Amodeo warned Corzine?s asset monetization plan also would push up the cost of consumer goods, raise highway safety issues and worsen air pollution in local communities throughout New Jersey. ?As the cost of moving goods by truck rise, it will ultimately be passed onto the consumer,? he said.
Polistina said the higher tolls could drive small, independently-owed trucking firms out of business. ?So to maintain their livelihoods, they will avoid the toll roads and use local highways instead,? he said. ?This will put pedestrians and children who walk to school at risk. Truck exhaust will add to the pollution problem as well.?
The Republican team said no matter how you look at it ?this plan is a loser for the taxpayers.?