Lease Could Help Pay Down Debt, Fund State Priorities
SECAUCUS – Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, a proponent in the State Legislature of a plan to establish a public-private partnership to operate the New Jersey Turnpike, issued the following statement today after testifying at an Assembly Transportation Committee, saying that under his proposal the New Jersey Turnpike Authority could continue operating New Jersey’s toll roads:
“While my colleagues in the Legislature have every right to scrutinize my Turnpike proposal, I hope that, at the end of the day, they will give us a chance to improve upon it and help solve our current fiscal needs, while investing in our future through more mass transit opportunities, better roadways and more open space.
“My current Turnpike proposal has benefited from constructive criticism from my colleagues, and I think we can continue to improve upon it.
“Through the bill I introduced on February 5, we have addressed safety and security concerns, by requiring the State Police to continue patrols as they currently do And we’ve limited the amount that tolls can increase in a given year to the rate of inflation.
“Most importantly, under the new proposal, we’ve given the Turnpike Authority a chance to match the best private offers for the lease, to ensure that the end result is the best possible for New Jersey’s residents and drivers. If the best course for the State is to stay the course when it comes to the Turnpike, under my proposal, we have that option.
“And we ensured that nothing in the language of any private contract for a toll road should impair the State’s ability to maintain its own roadway infrastructure.
“New Jersey’s current debt obligations prohibit us from meeting other State priorities, including expanding school construction for grades K-12, upgrading our mass transit infrastructure, expanding our State’s open space preservation programs and improving our State’s higher education institutions.
“My Turnpike proposal is only part of the solution. Restricting future borrowing by requiring voter approval is another part, limiting property tax increases and controlling wasteful spending, another part.
“All the parts will add up to a better quality of life for all our residents.”