Thursday, November 15, 2007

Corzine Mortgaging Future

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine must be drinking from the same Hudson River water that has turned Eliot Spitzer into a blathering fool.

Corzine's latest is that he's going to push ahead with a plan to lease the Garden State Parkway and the Turnpike to raise money and balance the budget.

Can you say one-shot? Can you say one-term governor?

I knew you could.

Of course, there are plenty of lemmings in the crowd who will cheer Corzine's move:
Gov. Jon Corzine today said he wants to cut the state's debt in half, but that it will take political fortitude by Democratic lawmakers to enact a plan to fix the states finances by borrowing up front against future toll increases.

He also said he is willing to risk his second term to push the plan through.

"I'm not looking to play at the margins, or do something that feels good," Corzine said at a luncheon speech at the New Jersey League of Municipalities convention in Atlantic City. "Make no mistake, I am willing to risk losing my job if that's necessary to set our fiscal house in order."

Corzine provided the newest details of what he facetiously called "my secret asset monetization plan" to a packed house. The crowd greeted the governor with enthusiastic applause when he entered the cavernous hall. The reception to his remarks was just as enthusiastic, especially his call to cut the state's debt in half.

Corzine envisions using use a windfall from an up-front lease of toll roads to pay down the massive state debt. That windfall would have to be at least $16 billion, just to cut debt in half, and some estimates have put it at nearly double that depending on the length of the lease.
No word on what would happen when the windfall turns out to be something less and the state is still short billions - and no longer has an asset to deal with. Yet, given the state's precarious fiscal situation and a bumpy real estate and stock market, he's pushing this plan?

Corzine may get his wish of being a one-term governor.

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