Press reports had indicated that following the legislative Joint Budget Oversight Committee’s approval of a $1.25 billion bond to fund road projects, workers would return on Tuesday. However, late today the NJ Transportation Department said, “The stoppage remains in place for NJDOT and NJ TRANSIT projects that are currently in the planning and development phase. We will use this time to conduct a cost-benefit review of each of these proposals.” In a well run business, conducting a cost-benefit review should be an ongoing process, not a cause for work stoppage. This administration has known since its inception that the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) was running low on funds.
According to the American Council of Engineering Companies of NJ, “This stoppage will potentially cripple New Jersey’s engineering profession and could result in the loss of hundreds and possibly thousands of jobs.” All of this is happening while NJ Spotlight points out that “The Christie administration resorted to diverting $393 million from the state’s depleted general fund this past year to keep transit and highway projects moving ahead.” While it’s not uncommon to transfer funds temporarily from one account to another, it is dangerous to do so under duress when both accounts are low and replenishment is not assured.
We are in a crisis. The governor after eight months has failed to put forth a plan to replenish the TTF, while simultaneously borrowing from the General Fund. During the budget committee hearings Commissioner Simpson said a plan would be issued by the end of the year. That is not soon enough. Show us a plan now Governor.