August 30, 2007
Atlantic County State Sen. James ?Sonny? McCullough said today that his opponent?s vote to authorize the Corzine Administration to proceed with plans to sell or lease the state?s three toll roads ?has now been shown to have been a monumental blunder which, according to a just released financial analysis, could result in highway users being ripped off by toll increases of 150 per cent.?
McCullough said that Assemblyman Jim Whelan cast a vote in favor of the state budget which contained language authorizing the Administration to use any means at its command to use the toll roads to produce billions of additional dollars for the state budget.
?What?s worse, Whelan also voted against a Republican-sponsored amendment which would have stricken the language from the budget and effectively told the Governor to drop his plans to sell, lease or otherwise squeeze money out of the toll road revenues,? McCullough said.
?Whelan?s vote surely ranks as one of the most ill-considered and financially irresponsible acts of his term in office,? the Senator said. ?He joined the rest of Trenton?s free-spending Democrats whose guiding principle seems to be to spend money until there?s none left and then sell something so they can spend more.?
The Senator and his Assembly running mates, Vince Polistina and John Amodeo, have consistently opposed any plan to use the toll roads as revenue generators for the state.
?The release yesterday of a study conducted by a partner in a Wall Street law firm revealed unheard of toll increases would be necessary to repay the revenues the Corzine Administration wants to divert from the three roads into the state treasury,? they said.
The report showed that the basic 35 cent toll on the Garden State Parkway would increase to 90 cents, while a motorist driving the length of the Atlantic City Expressway would pay $7, up from the current $2.50. It also showed that the average commuter on the New Jersey Turnpike would be hit with a $2,400 annual increase, more than $1,400 higher than the current level.
?Two of the three roads — the Parkway and the Expressway — run through Atlantic County and it is clear that the plan supported by Whelan and the Governor would inflict extreme economic punishment on motorists here,? the Republican candidates said.
?Moreover, these toll increases would have a serious adverse effect on the casino industry, already faced with heavy competitive pressures from neighboring states,? the Republicans said. ?We cannot afford to take any action which will undercut the casino industry?s competitive edge and toll increases, by discouraging visitors, vacationers and tourists, will most certainly do that.?
?No matter how hard he tries to distance himself from his support for the Governor, Whelan?s record is clear — he voted to allow the Administration to move on its plan and he voted against denying it that opportunity.? McCullough said.