New Jersey needs to create new revenue streams to help support the state’s transportation infrastructure needs, according to a report released last week by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
Gov. Chris Christie in March released an $8 billion, five-year Transportation Trust Fund Authority capital plan that will finance the New Jersey Department of Transportation from fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2016.
For fiscal 2012, which begins July 1, $76 million of funding will come from the general fund, with that allocation growing during the next few years to a total of $1.8 billion.
“Find new sources of revenue,” the TST Campaign report recommends. “The proposed capital program relies on $1.8 billion in transfers from the state’s general fund over five years, revenues that presently due not exist.”
Tri-State Transportation is a nonprofit group that promotes public transit and equitable transportation systems in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
Conversely, the Christie administration has said that the state must increase its use of pay-go funding for road, bridge, and mass-transit capital projects and decrease borrowing to fund those improvements. The TTFA has more than $12 billion of outstanding debt and tapped its bonding capacity earlier this month with a $600 million borrowing.
In order to issue TTFA bonds in fiscal 2012, Christie proposed redirecting $140 million of transportation revenue that currently flows into the general fund to the authority and then leveraging those funds.
The Tri-State Transportation report also criticizes the administration’s plan to increase spending on capacity expansion projects to 11% of the fiscal 2012 budget, up from 8.9% and 7.5% in fiscal 2011 and 2010, respectively. The nonprofit said the priority must be a “fix-it-first” agenda that brings more of the state’s transportation infrastructure to a state of good repair.
“The analysis makes us concerned the NJDOT is taking on too many new road-widening projects that it cannot afford and moving away from smart transportation policies,” Kate Slevin, executive director of the campaign, said in a statement.