Ignores OLS Analysis & Fails To Acknowledge They Were Wrong
TRENTON – When confronted with the fact that a key argument they made in their fight against lowering tolls on drivers using the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway was proven wrong by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS), the Christie Administration simply failed to acknowledge it. Instead, their response was to list all the reasons they believe they can move forward with a proposed toll hike to fund the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund.
“Instead of just saying they made a mistake and were wrong, the administration ducked the issue and decided it was better to say why they think they can circumvent the process and raise tolls on New Jersey drivers,” said Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem) sponsor of legislation that would roll back the portion of the 2008 toll hike that was to be dedicated to the now-cancelled ARC tunnel project. The bill also is sponsored by Senator Nick Sacco (D-Hudson).
The Governor recently announced his intention to use the entirety of the toll hike to fund the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). Last month, Christie administration spokesman Michael Drewniak called Sweeney and Sacco “uninformed,” and definitively said that since the New Jersey Turnpike Authority had already sold bonds in anticipation of a toll hike that will take place in 2012, “You cannot simply roll them back.”
But the OLS analysis stated that the Christie’s Administration’s assertion is not correct. According to OLS, “the funds that the authority has budgeted for the ARC Tunnel payments are not part of its debt service obligation, meaning that they have not been ‘bonded’ for ‘other projects’ or, indeed, allocated for anything else.”
“The administration, for reasons I do not understand, is fighting in every way possible to ignore the process that allows motorists to have the final say on the Governor’s toll increases. Instead of finding a way to work with us, they just want to plow forward with their bait-and-switch on New Jersey drivers. We look at the facts and say the toll rollback can happen. They get confronted with the facts and say ‘hey, look over there’,” said Sweeney.