Gov. Corzine's State of the State speech
To my great surprise, I actually find myself sympathizing with the man and thinking that in theory, his plan might actually help NJ fix its finances. I was not aware of the fact that Turnpike and Parkway tolls had not increased for over ten years, and it does make sense to me that they should be readjusted to take the cost of inflation into account. Yes, it's a painful pill to swallow and I suspect that a lot of non-toll roads are going to be destroyed as trucks switch routes to avoid the hikes. Which is going to end up costing the taxpayers even more money as the transportation trust fund balance levels will need to increase in proportion to the damage.
But, if the extra money is really used to pay down the state's debt and if state spending is permanently limited to the amount of recurring state revenue and if any one-off windfalls really are exclusively used to reduce outstanding debt, the plan might actually work.
Problem here is a whole lot of ifs. Because I trust the NJ state government to use that money for what it's supposed to be contractually earmarked for about as much as I trust someone who tells me that when I wake up tomorrow, the sky will be Pepto Bismol pink and purple starfish will be coming out of my butt.
I don't doubt that right now the intention is to do exactly what the plan calls for...or at least that's probably Corzine's intention and every other high-ranking official has to at least claim it's their intention as well or get butchered by the media. And I'm sure the siphoning will start off slow at first...someone will raise an issue that some project is a teensey bit short of the funds it needs to accomplish goal X and it would only take the teensiest bit of this "earmarked" money to close the gap and does the government really want to take the risk of having the project shut down when such a small amount (just a drop in the bucket, really, we swear) will fix the problem, etc. And then another project will come up, and another one, and then money will start changing hands under the table and political favors will start being brokered in the back rooms to make sure that specific projects suck away a little more of the "earmarked" money, and pretty soon there will be so many projects claiming a "teensey" piece of the "earmarked" money that none of it will be left over to put towards what it was earmarked to do. And the same set of corrupt assholes will once again be lining their pockets with taxpayer dollars while the state teeters on the edge of bankruptcy.
Personally, I think Corzine should have made ending government corruption his first priority when he took office two years ago. Because if he had made demonstrable strides to achieve that goal, if he could point to real, tangible successes in that regard, maybe people would trust him in regards to this fiscal restructuring plan. As it is, I'm betting that most people feel the same way I do and will fight against this plan tooth and nail because they simply can't afford yet another astronomical cost to living in NJ that will give them no benefits whatsoever in the end. Either that or they'll do what I did and get the hell out of Dodge while they still have something left in their wallets other than moths and the proverbial dust cloud.
To quote a DJ on the radio station I listen to on my way to work, will the last person in New Jersey please remember to shut off the lights when they leave?