Tag Archive: infrastructure

The Persistence of Christie’s Legacy

As Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions (at least for 2016) begin to unravel, his legacy as governor is simultaneously being formed. Due to some of his more egregious actions, that legacy will weigh heavily in New Jersey for decades to come.

Numerous aspects of life in the Garden State will be reflected in his legacy – women whose health has been compromised, pipelines through pristine, environmentally fragile areas, and an educational system that has badly deteriorated.

This morning, the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee heard testimony about another Christie blunder that will have a significant deleterious impact on the economy and quality of life for New Jersey residents.

Cory Booker on Meet the Press: Infrastructure

Yesterday was a packed day, with President Obama in New Jersey. And today, I’m stuck at the car dealership. So I wanted to go back and pick up Sen. Cory Booker’s appearance on Meet the Press Sunday. Chuck Todd pitches him the Republican claim that Democrats are trying to politicize Amtrak’s Philadelphia derailment. Booker calls that a distraction, and he’s right. Republicans over the last decade, and particularly since GOP control of Congress, have governed by failing to govern, refusing to invest, refusing to spend and looking to blame somebody else for the consequences of that. But starving Amtrak and infrastructure investment is more than just a Republican mistake; both parties bear responsibility, and both will now be required to prevent the next Amtrak disaster, or bridge failure, or airport or road disaster. Infrastructure is the backbone of well-functioning economies. As a nation, we have to decide if that’s what we want to be. Booker:

As China invests about 9% of their GDP in infrastructure, Japan 6%, Europe 5%, America is only doing 1.5%. By withholding this investment in what America used to dominate the globe in – the number 1 infrastructure globally – now out of the top 10, depending who you look at, number 12 or 18th, we are losing economic competitiveness, we are losing out on jobs, we are missing out on growth.

Watch – on the jump page.

Suburban Sprawl: Our defining feature and biggest challenge

Sprawl. Burbs. Little municipalities by the hundreds. They define New Jersey. Does they have to, going forward? Promoted by Rosi.

Everyone who’s ever driven through New Jersey has seen it. Town after town, subdivision after subdivision of vinyl-sided, single-family housing. It is one of the hallmark features of the Garden State along with our shore towns and Bruce Springsteen. Having grown up in the 20th century with the popularity of the automobile, it provided shelter for a booming post-World War II population and the millions of children born to it. But the American dream our suburbs helped to fulfill have become something of a nightmare. And as the problems that plague these towns get worse, they threaten to undermine the viability of the entire state.

Strengthening New Jersey’s Middle Class

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the middle class has continued to shrink in the Garden State. As Governor Christie puts the finishing touches on tomorrow’s State of the State Address and works to complete his budget plans he must take seriously the need for strengthening and increasing our middle class. Discontent among the middle class is rising. There are steps he and the legislature can take.

Middle class is defined variously, but as a positional term it’s above lower class and below upper class. There has been attention recently on the lower class with the resulting increase in the minimum wage, concern over the safety net, higher ACA Medicaid enrollment, and an effort to restore NJ’s full Earned Income Tax Credit. There has also been a fixation and anger over the increasing wealth of the upper class. There has been less attention to the largest single group – the middle class.

One possible definition of the middle class is that it’s between 75% and 250% of the median household income of the area. In New Jersey the median household income is $71,629, so the range for a middle class household would be $54,000 to $179,000. Over 50% of NJ households fit into this range.

Below the fold are recommended solutions.

Counting Your Blessings: Oil Prices

You probably are not thinking of the price of oil as something for which we should give thanks today. But if like most people you are traveling by car, you notice and have been noticing the decreasing price of gasoline. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average national gas price in 2013 was $3.51, in 2014 $3.39, and projected in 2015 $2.94. Increased production and soft demand account for this benefit.

In New Jersey yesterday the average price was already a low $2.72 – considerably less than the national 2014 average and 2015 projection. Our prices are always well below the national average because NJ imposes the fourth lowest gasoline tax. Historically our price reached a high of $4.00 in 2008.

It would not be surprising based on the projected average national decrease in gasoline price from 2014 to 2015 by 45 cents, if our current Garden State pump price of $2.72 were to decrease well below $2.50/gal in 2015.

In your travels you have also witnessed the decrepit conditions of our road infrastructure. So what better time than now to increase the gas tax by 25 cents? Implementing the increase in January while national prices will be going down would still yield a pump price here below the current level and maybe as low as  $2.50. Another benefit: about 20 to 30% of the increased tax revenue would come from out-of-state drivers.

It’s time to get this done. The 25 cent increase could be divided between fuel tax and an additional refinery tax, but achieving less than a 25 cent increase will not provide the Transportation Trust Fund with the resources needed and only reduces the matching federal funds.

If you are counting your blessings, the lower crude oil cost also will reduce winter heating oil prices, make business less attractive for frackers who rely on higher prices, and put more money in your pocket. Happy Thanksgiving.