"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

State Threatens Not To Pay For Local Roadwork

It will be interesting to see Acting Governor Codey‘s priorities in the budget he unveils for the state of New Jersey next month. Be prepared because it won’t be pretty and the usual battle between the taxpayers versus the tax receivers will truly get underway.

Business as usual, but wouldn’t you think basic government services, such as road maintenance and construction, would escape the cost cutting axe? Apparently government programs that benefit all citizens are not priorities for Codey and his fellow Democrats.

Based upon a Star-Ledger report, Acting Governor Codey is willing to slash $120 million for improvements to local roads and bridges from his new budget. This action would cost New Jersey Taxpayers an additional $120 million in lost federal matching funds. Thankfully the law requires the state to set aside a minimum of $30 million dollars for local roads; otherwise nothing would be allocated in Codey’s budget for these projects.

New Jersey should be maximizing opportunities for federal matching funds for necessary state infrastructure projects. Instead we expect to see Acting Governor Codey’s budget increase funding for projects that benefit special interest groups and add a whole laundry list of new programs he deems far more important than investing in critical infrastructure.

Desperate to find money for major projects, the New Jersey Department of Transportation may eliminate $120 million earmarked for improvements to local roads and bridges, state officials say. Cutting those "local aid" grants also would jeopardize $120 million in federal matching funds for towns and counties, unless local governments were able to put up the cash themselves.

"If they pull the plug on this, the only way these projects would get done is through the local property taxes," said Peter Palmer, chairman of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority and a Somerset County freeholder.

The DOT's preliminary $2.6 billion capital budget includes $270 million for local aid projects. About $30 million of that total is set aside under state law and cannot be reduced. But $120 million is provided by the state transportation trust fund, and that allocation is not protected by law. The rest of the local aid money comes from the federal government, which has agreed to match the $120 million provided by the state.




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