By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
??? Last week, we looked behind the curtain of Governor John Corzine’s super-secret plan to get cash from our public highways.? We saw that our “Wizard of Wall Street” governor is as phony as the Wizard of Oz.??
In his State of the State speech, Corzine criticized previous governors for “spending gimmicks” that ran up $117 billion in state government debt over the past 20 years.?? But then Corzine proposed the mother of spending gimmicks that would add $25 billion to that debt in just one year!
Corzine criticized previous state politicians for increasing government spending? by “6% to 7% per year, while the state’s income increased by only “2% to 3%.??? But it was Corzine who wanted to borrow $650 million for “Open Space” and “Stem Cell Research”.?? It was Corzine who just rammed through a half billion dollars of new spending for suburban school districts and new child care centers with no money to pay for it.
And Corzine still plans to build 100,000 housing units, a $3 billion “Hudson Tunnel”, and $37 billion of new highway and railroad projects-all with high price, politically connected union contractors, of course.
Corzine complained of increasing pensions in 2001 without paying for them.? But he offered nothing to fix the problem.? Corzine promised to “freeze” future spending, but who can believe him?
??? Corzine also said we need to amend our NJ Constitution again.?? But why??? Every NJ Constitution since 1844 has this language:
??? “The Legislature shall not, in any manner, create in any fiscal year a debt or debts, liability or liabilities of the State, which together with any previous debts or liabilities shall exceed at any time one per centum of the total amount appropriated by the general appropriation law for that fiscal year, unless the same shall be authorized by a law. . .? No such law shall take effect until it shall have been submitted to the people at a general election. . . . “?? (1% of NJ’s $33.3 billion budget is $333 million.?? All new debt requires a public vote.)
??? Corzine admits that the people only approved $3 billion of New
Jersey’s debt under that part of our Constitution.?? We do not legally owe the remaining $114 billion.?
Roughly $29 billion of our state debt consists of junk bonds issued by government agencies like the E.D.A. (Economic Development Authority) that were never back by the full faith and credit of the state government.
Since voters never approved the $25 billion in pension debt, or $60 billion obligation to give free medical to retired government employees, future generations cannot be forced to pay those “liabilities” either.
Corzine claims we have a “moral” obligation to do so.?? But why is it moral to tax our grandchildren for politicians like Cape May County Republican ex-Senator Nick Asselta??? Asselta paid into the pension system based on his $49,000 a year salary as a Senator.?? Yet his pension will be based on the $125,000 Board of Public Utilities salary he will get for a few years for selling a few lame duck Senate votes.
If Governor Jon Corzine had brains, guts, or character, he would face up to the problem right now.?? He would repudiate all illegal debt incurred in violation of the Constitution.?? He would negotiate new pension deals that would fairly reflect the earnings and years of service of real, full time rank and file state, county, local, and public school employees during their full careers-not just their highest three years.
That would give our kids and grandkids in New Jersey a fresh start.?? I know this can be done, because this is what I and my partner do for clients with debt problems in our law office.?
But Corzine wants to take us in the opposite direction.?? He wants to turn our $117 billion of government debt into $142 billion.?? He wants a new government agency to force our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to pay whatever higher tolls are needed to pay back that extra $25 billion with interest for the next 75 years.?? If they can’t pay, European, Arab, and Chinese investors will own our highways.
??? Not a penny of Corzine’s borrowing would help any of the pension funds.?? Only folks holding $10 billion in E.D.A. junk bonds will get paid.?? This will protect Corzine’s Wall Street friends who made fortunes putting these deals together from possible lawsuits and criminal prosecutions if the bonds default.
??? For rides, directions, or other information concerning this article or Governor Corzine’s “Town Meeting” on his plan this Saturday, January 19, at 2PM at Middle Township High School, by Exit 10 of the Garden State Parkway, visit www.libertyandprosperity.org or contact Somers Point attorney,
Seth Grossman, Executive Director, www.libertyandprosperity.org,
453 Shore Road, Somers Point, NJ? 08244.?