Borrowing: A driving force in Statehouse

By - Last modified: March 2, 2011 at 2:52 PM

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So much for Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign promise to stop paying the state’s mortgage with the credit card.

Once again, we had a Transportation Trust Fund coasting on fumes. Previous governors borrowed heavily to fuel new projects, because letting the needle run down to E stops all transportation work. Candidate Christie lambasted such borrowing, saying it would end in his administration, but like many of his promises, he gave no inclination as to how he’d fund new projects without doing so.

So of course, in the end, borrowing was the order of the day, but not before we were treated to a childish performance by both parties. The Legislature refused to consider a bond measure to power the TTF, instead preferring to trumpet how Christie was breaking a campaign promise. Not to be outdone, the governor stopped all road and rail projects until the measure was approved. Democrats spent all Monday gloating over this before, of course, approving the bond.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) probably thought he had a real clever metaphor going when he called the $1.25 billion bond measure a Band-Aid. Unfortunately, that conveniently ignores the years of borrowing that went to fund the TTF. If you put a Band-Aid on a wound for a decade, and the injury only gets worse, you don’t apply another bandage — you go to a doctor, who recommends a course of action to treat the problem.

As usual, the only course of action in Trenton is more borrowing. How much will the doctor have to amputate in a few decades to stop the financial bleeding and pay for all this?
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