Saturday, January 19, 2008

Face Time With Corzine

I met New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine today at a invitation-only reporter’s roundtable. Corzine came to Cape May Court House, touting his transportation and infrastructure reform program and spent close to an hour with reporters outlining his proposal. When I arrived at the performing arts center where Corzine would speak, I was escorted into room where a reporter’s gaggle sat around a table with the governor. There were two other reporters, plus my editor and a bunch of photographers. New Jersey State Troopers and the governor’s security agents spread across the room. Corzine spoke softly and congenially about his program, which he says will pay down New Jersey’s $32 billion debt. He outlined a controversial move, to raise tolls 50 percent from 2010 to 2022 every four years. It’s kind of like the winter Olympics, but one where you ride the Luge of Frustration as you scramble for more quarters on the Garden State Parkway.

The proposal also calls for the creation of an independent entity to manage the toll roads. Dubbed the “Public Benefit Corporation”, this slice of bureaucracy will not contribute to the state’s debt because it will be an independent entity filled with citizens appointed by Corzine and representing various sectors of New Jersey life: environmentalists, truckers, planning and cat fanciers. The citizen members will oversee the PBC’s board of directors.

Corzine said the state of New Jersey is in fiscal trouble. How much trouble? Think about this: you wake up in a Las Vegas hotel room, your memory blotted out by alcohol from the night before, and there’s a dead hooker in bed next to you. That’s the kind of trouble New Jersey is in. Years of spending money like a coked-up teenager with a credit card created a mess so great, so colossal, so epic in scope, that if nothing is done to alleviate it, Corzine said the state would have to declare bankruptcy.

One good part of Corzine’s plan I like is the government will also be forced to make cuts. Layoffs, cutting expenses and just doing more with less is fine by me. All of those pension hogs in Trenton are putting the squeeze on John and Jane Taxpayer and we want some kind of relief. Squint hard, state workers; here comes a hot, white long-overdue blast of the Bukkake of Justice!

Of course the audience at the event, which resembled extras from the movie “The Hills Have Eyes” really let Corzine have it. Seems like Joe and Joline Sixpack don’t like a fancy-pants Democrat from the New Jersey’s northlands in their precious backwoods telling them of toll hikes or independent entities managing toll roads or chewing with their mouth closed. They let this big city liberal have it so bad, that the atmosphere of the meeting resembled Kvetch Night at your local senior center. Why do senior citizens complain about money so much? Listen, folks, the Great Depression is over. You don’t have to forage for tumbleweeds as a source of roughage. We have super markets now, some offering deals and discounts. Clip those coupons, granny; we’re saving cash.

Corzine had the guts to propose some solution to bail the state out of its fiscal mess. So it’s going to get rough for everyone in the next decade. Big deal! By then we wouldn’t be living in New Jersey anyway since the North American Union will go into effect in 2012 as part of a neo-fascist government banding together the United States, Canada and Mexico. The dollar will be worthless as we'll spend our Ameros on gasmasks, governmentally-sanctioned Bibles and Victory Gin.

Interviewing Gov. Corzine as part of a reporter’s roundtable made me feel special, like a real journalist, like a non-insane version of Katie Couric or a Dan Rather without the bulldog jowls or the grudge against freedom or a Bob Woodruff without the shrapnel. Okay, that was mean. Couric is not that insane. Anyway, talking to the governor made me feel proud to be part of the Fourth Estate, even if it’s just for a local newspaper in a small town nobody’s ever heard of nor ever will hear of again after the Great Purging of 2014.


Sal Costello said...

I never had a problem with toll roads until Some states like Texas started taking our public right of way and tax dollars, both intended for freeways, to create a new monopolistic toll tax on our families.

"Freeway Tolls" cost more to build and maintain than free roads, and his double tax scheme is allowing his contributers to make out like bandits.

An indexed gas tax costs many times less than tolls per mile.

Sal "The Muckraker" Costello

Wandering Minstrel said...

Typical liberal solution - raise taxes. "Fancy pants Democrat" indeed. This has been New Jersey's pseudo-solution to the rising debt problem for years - raise taxes to a point that families are no longer able to stay in the state in which they grew up. How is this a viable solution?

Corzine's plan is asinine at best. Raise the tolls by that amount? Fine, people will take side roads, which will cause local traffic (and accidents) to skyrocket, as the more rural roads were not designed to handle the increased traffic.

Want a solution? Check out the tax rates that the casinos actually pay compared to what they could logically be paying.