First District Senator Nick Asselta ? responding to yet another deliberately misleading statement by Democrat Jeff Van Drew ? today dismissed Van Drew?s latest ridiculous charges, and suggested once again that Van Drew come clean and own up to his vote to give the Governor a blank check to pay engineering, legal, and financial consultants in preparation for the sale, lease, or monetization of New Jersey?s toll roads.
?Yet one more time, Jeff isn’t leveling with the residents of the First District,? said Asselta. ?Desperate to distract attention from his own vote just a few weeks ago to give the Governor a blank check topay consultants in preparation to sell or lease or monetize the toll roads, he?s now resorted to throwing mud without checking his facts.
?Let?s look at the 1999 Structured Financing Act I voted for, and compare it to the plan Jeff just voted for:
?First, the 1999 Act was an authorization bill, not an appropriations bill. As any legislator knows, there?s a world of difference between authorizing an action and spending taxpayers? money on it. Jeff actually voted to spend money ? and not just to spend money, but to spend an UNLIMITED amount of money, to pay people to prepare to sell or lease or monetize the toll roads.
?Second, the 1999 legislation applied only to state assets ?that are associated with certain benefits that have value to private sector parties but that have no value to a government entity. The bill authorizes a structured transaction that has the effect of allowing the sale of just those benefits that have value to other parties? ? in other words, NOT the toll roads, which OBVIOUSLY have value to the State. We weren?t talking about selling physical assets ? we were talking about selling intangible assets, like depreciation values.
?Third, the State Treasurer, having looked at the language of the proposed authorization in 1999, identified precisely FOUR state properties appropriate for structured financial transactions. Those properties were estimated to have a total asset value of approximately $400 million. Based on an estimate that similar structured financing transactions in other states had yielded an average 5 percent return on the value of the underlying asset, the Treasury Department identified expected returns from agreements concerning those assets at $20 million ? in other words, roughly one one-THOUSANDTH of the size of the transaction Governor Corzine is talking about.
?Fourth, what we were really talking about here, to cut to the chase, is the DEPRECIATION VALUE of certain state-owned assets. The legislation we passed in 1999 specifically said, ?the structured financing transaction whereby a governmental entity, such as the State, can obtain additional revenues by conveying its interest in its assets to other parties and by so conveying such interests, transfer CERTAIN BENEFITS WHICH THE STATE ENJOYS IN CONNECTION WITH ITS ASSETS, WHICH WOULD HAVE VALUE TO THE OTHER PARTY BUT OF WHICH THE STATE CANNOT TAKE ADVANTAGE.?
?Fifth, the legislation then said, ?Entry into such structured financing transactions is not intended to interfere with the state?s ownership, occupation, or use of its assets ??
?Sixth, and finally, Jeff?s release refers yet again to how his vote to give the Governor a blank check to pay for consultants to prepare to sell or lease the toll roads was really nothing more than a vote to pay for a ?study.? But Section 75 says NOTHING about a ?study.? Jeff voted to appropriate, and I quote, ?Such sums as may be necessary? to pay the legal, financial, and engineering consultants ?in preparation for the monetization, sale, or lease? of the toll roads.
?The bill I supported in 1999 was non-controversial, and in no way had anything to do with selling New Jersey?s toll roads ? and the proof is found in the fact that every single member of the Senate who voted, and 67 of the 80 members of the Assembly, of both parties, voted for it.
?For Jeff to equate my vote in 1999 with his vote in 2007 in preparation for the sale or lease of the toll roads isn’t merely to compare apples to oranges ? it’s to compare apples to footballs. The two just aren’t even close.?
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