Republican budget proposal
includes $138 capital construction cuts, could jeopardize dozens of projects, aid to local communities
(Trenton) - Proposed Republican budget cuts for Fiscal Year 2004 could jeopardize dozens of Department of Transportation projects statewide, said Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere today.
"At a time when transportation funding is vital to New Jersey's economy, it appears that the proposal put forth by Senator Bennett (R-12) could stall, delay or even jeopardize dozens of critical NJDOT projects and endanger millions of dollars in local aid to communities," Lettiere said.
Despite an ongoing fiscal crisis, Governor McGreevey's commitment to transportation has remained strong. For the second year in a row, the Governor's budget has provided $2.6 billion for capital projects, which supports 105,000 jobs and spurs another $6 billion in economic activity. The Administration's proposed FY04 budget also provides for $7 million in livable communities aid, which helps revitalize our cities and towns.
Under the Governor's leadership, NJDOT has made tremendous strides in improving the quality of life for working families in New Jersey by easing congestion, putting record amounts of work on the street, fixing EZ Pass and the Division of Motor Vehicles and making significant investments to enhance highway safety.
Despite significant capital investments by the McGreevey Administration, NJDOT deferred more than $700 million in projects because the needs far outpace the resources available. Additional cuts will only further delay critical repairs to New Jersey's infrastructure.
In addition, the $138 million in cuts proposed by the Republicans will jeopardize tens of millions in local aid to communities, thereby negatively impact property taxes. Municipalities and residents of New Jersey have come to rely upon the $175 million NJDOT spends on local aid grants, which are traditionally used to defraying the costs of maintaining and repairing transportation infrastructure.
Just as the needs outweigh the resources on the state level, the transportation needs at the local level are significant. Yet, municipalities have very little resources to improve their transportation network. This is the time to make more investments in our local communities and not less. The proposed cut in capital projects would amount to disinvestment in our communities, potentially setting aside any hope for sustaining property tax relief.