Monday, March 05, 2007

Another bad idea brought to you by Jon Corzine

Knowing that he can't raise taxes two years in a row (particularly in a legislative election year), and meeting a growing opposition to the sale or long-term lease of the Turnpike, the newest "revenue raising" idea being floated around by Governor Corzine is to borrow against future toll revenue from New Jersey's toll roads.
Here's how it would work: The state would estimate how much money in tolls would be collected along the turnpike and parkway for the next 15 years.

It would then borrow that amount all at once.

It would pay back the money annually with interest, much like a credit card, student or mortgage loan.

The money would help build schools, improve state colleges, preserve open space, and enhance health care, but Humphreys said tolls would have to increase to help pay interest and guarantee that the loan could be repaid if toll traffic did not meet expectations.

This is a stupid idea.

First, why can't the State just live within its means? Seriously. The State's budget is a certain amount. Its taxes and other revenues are a certain amount. If the two amounts don't meet, then either raise taxes (obviously we're against this option) or cut expenses (yippee!). Don't borrow against, lease or sell the State's assets for a quick fix today only to leave a revenue problem for the future.

Second, where will the money come from to maintain the Turnpike and/or Parkway? If the State has a loan it needs to pay back with the toll money it collects, it can't use that money to maintain the highways.

Third, what do we do in the future once this one-time revenue source has dried up? $1.2 billion (what some estimate the State can borrow under this scheme) doesn't last quite as long as it used to, especially when you shave 20% off the top to pay for New Jersey's corruption.

It's time the State -- and those who run it -- become fiscally responsible. Cut expenditures, don't borrow and just make our problems that much worse.

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