Response to Plan for Replenishing Transportaton Trust Fund
Jay Corbalis (609) 393-008 ext. 110
Peter Kasabach (609) 393-0008 ext. 104
New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach today issued the following statement in response to Governor Chris Christie’s announced five-year plan for replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund:
“A safe and reliable transportation system is critical to New Jersey’s future prosperity, and the system should be funded from a stable and sustainable funding source. When it was created, the Transportation Trust Fund was intended to be that source. Over the years, however, the fund has been systematically mismanaged, overloaded with debt, and brought repeatedly to the brink of bankruptcy.
“The proposal presented by the Governor today begins to head in the right direction. It addresses the immediate need to replenish the Trust Fund, moves away from excessive reliance on debt and back toward the ‘pay-as-you-go’ model on which the fund was founded. Importantly, it provides an increase in funding for NJ Transit, a critically important step in the wake of last year’s fare hikes and service cuts. This immediate replenishment of the fund will enable many worthy projects to continue, and thousands of people to remain working in this time of high unemployment.
“This is not, however, a sustainable solution to the Trust Fund. At the end of its five-year timetable, it will leave New Jersey taxpayers burdened with a higher level of debt than they face today. It also relies on sources of funding that may or may not be forthcoming; for example, it anticipates tapping the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for more money than the bi-state agency may be willing to direct to New Jersey projects.
“While we recognize the fiscal limitations facing the state, we believe it is essential that the Governor and Legislature develop a plan for a fiscally sustainable solution to the Trust Fund. Equally important, we must start thinking not only about how we finance our state’s ongoing transportation needs, but how we plan, manage and operate our entire transportation system. Instead of focusing on the amount of money that is spent each year, we should instead focus on outcomes: fixing our deficient bridges, improving safety, reducing commute times, increasing transit ridership, decreasing carbon emissions and using transportation investments to encourage smart growth. These should be the goals by which our transportation system is measured.”