Christie: NJ Must Borrow Again to Fix Roads
New Jersey will once again need to borrow money to fund the Transportation Trust Fund, the pot of money the state uses for road, bridge, and tunnel projects.
On Townsquare Media’s monthly “Ask the Governor” program, Gov. Chris Christie was asked about the Transportation Trust Fund and the bonding.
“This is another example of what we can no longer afford to do because the pension payment is crowding out the ability to do anything else,” Christie said. “The fact is there’s no place else for us to go. I would love to do more PAYGO on the Transportation Trust Fund. We can’t.”
Christie has been bitterly critical of previous governors who have relied heavily on borrowing.
How much does the state plan on borrowing? Christie wasn’t sure.
“That’s really a floating number depending upon which projects get done in the current fiscal year and which projects hit in the next fiscal year, but we’ll certainly be giving that information as we get more exact on it as we get into the spring season for doing construction,” Christie said.
The TTF has been near bankruptcy for years and the money the state collects from the current gas tax isn’t enough to cover the debt payments it must make for the borrowing it did to keep the fund afloat.
In Jan. 2011, Christie unveiled his proposal for transportation projects and funding the TTF. The plan called for continuing to dedicate $1.6 billion for capital projects through Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 and incrementally stepping up “pay-as-you-go” funding commonly referred to as PAYGO.
Under the plan, the state was expected to pour $490 million into the TTF through PAYGO in the fiscal year starting July 1. Tuesday, State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said there would be no PAYGO in FY 15. He said bonds would be issued, which is a form of borrowing. The State is already authorized to issue bonds for $735 million. If it also has to borrow the full $490 million that was supposed to be funded through PAYGO, borrowing for FY 15 would balloon to more than $1.2 billion.
More: Christie Talks About the Budget