DeCroce: Corzine linking of Green Acres to state asset sale is blackmail

Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce said he is outraged by Governor Jon Corzine?s decision to link legislative approval of an “asset monetization” scheme to the governor?s continued support for the New Jersey Green Acres open space preservation program and announced he will withdraw his co-sponsorship of the bill as a result.

“Governor Corzine knows of the strong support for Green Acres funding and this is nothing less than an attempt to blackmail the Legislature to support his risky ?asset monetization? scheme,” said DeCroce, R-Morris and Passaic. “As evidence by the co-sponsorship on ACR-10/229, Green Acres preservation is an issue that draws broad bipartisan support. But it will not have that support if the program is linked to a reckless budget gimmick that will damage this state?s long-term financial stability.”

On Monday, Corzine announced he would not support any bonding plan to fund the Garden State Preservation Trust and would only support the program contingent on the Legislature adopting what he calls his proposed ?asset monetization? plan which may include selling the New Jeresey Turnpike or the State Lottery.

DeCroce noted that ACR-10/229 has been amended to now include language stating that the $175 million for the Green Acres program can come from a state resource certified by the treasurer to have not been “available as a source of State revenue, or as a State resource, before July 1, 2008.” This is clearly a reference toward revenue from an asset monetization plan.

According to news reports, Corzine has struck a deal with Democrat leaders in the Legislature to put $30 million of funding in the program for this year as a stop-gap until he gets his monetization proposal passed. DeCroce said he will be removing his name from co-sponsorship of the Green Acres funding resolution and that he believes other members of the Republican caucus may follow suit.

“I cannot accept a bill that provides a token amount of money for preservation for a single year in exchange for 100 years of guaranteed toll increases,” DeCroce said.

“The Green Acres program was originally designed as an initiative that would be able to stand on its own without partisan bickering, because it served the important purpose of preserving open space,” DeCroce said. “What Governor Corzine has done is link this popular, bipartisan program to a very unpopular and politically explosive proposal. This move could have a devastating impact on Green Acres funding going forward.”

DeCroce said that the Governor?s decision was irresponsible and that it has jeopardized the future of the state?s open space program.

“With billions of dollars of wasteful government spending waiting to be attacked, Governor Corzine has chosen instead to threaten the future of open space preservation,” DeCroce said. “All so that he can win approval for a plan that is itself a form of long-term borrowing ? getting an instant infusion of cash by signing away sources of revenue for the next 100 years. I cannot support this plan.”

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