Friday, October 30, 2009

Gov. Corzine Pressing For Higher Transportation Costs Before Election Day

Gov. Jon Corzine must be tone deaf. People are in a foul mood because of higher taxes and fees, and Corzine is once again considering higher tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike to fund transportation projects.

The reasoning is that because those highways include quite a few out of state travelers, the impact on New Jersey residents is less than by other tax and fee schemes.

The problem is that it does exact a cost on state taxpayers and residents who have to use those highways to get around the state. The Parkway and Turnpike are the only true North-South highways cutting through the state.

Corzine said that his prior calls to increase tolls by 800% were the wrong toll at the wrong time, but now says that a modified plan may be in order.

In other words, Corzine is comfortable hiking taxes and fees at a time when the state taxpayers are already among those shouldering the highest tax burdens in the nation. The Tax Foundation found that New Jersey and several New York counties have the highest tax burdens in the nation.

Corzine wants to impose still more taxes and fees to cover necessary transportation projects. Transportation projects are a necessary and critical element in a state's economic competitiveness. Providing a steady stream of income is critical, but the state motor fuels taxes aren't going to pull the same revenues as cars and trucks become more efficient; tolls are a direct tangible charge for mileage use, but as anyone driving those tolls roads around New Jersey knows, the quality of the roads isn't what it should be, especially in comparison to the New York State Thruway, which is a far larger system and whose road conditions are far better. Better use of transportation dollars is needed - wasteful spending must be avoided, including boondoggle transportation projects that severely overestimate transit needs like Secaucus Junction or Ramsey Route 17, both of which continue to be underutilized by more than 50% of the projected amounts from conception.

It means getting rid of pet projects to concentrate on critical needs, something that Corzine has been incapable of doing. It means limiting spending; another area that Corzine has been incapable of doing, despite his claims that he cut spending in this year's budget (a bald-faced lie given that state spending was goosed by a $2 billion infusion of federal aid that allowed state spending to continue at the same pace despite a massive shortfall in revenues).

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