STATE—Sen. Ray Lesniak is calling for a 50 percent increase in tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, but he says nothing will be done to reduce the state’s debt, now estimated to exceed $42 billion.
“Any toll increase or gasoline tax will only be for transportation,” Lesniak said. “I don’t think we’re going to do any debt reduction for a while.”
The lawmaker says debt reduction is “not a popular issue these days. Why do you think politicians in the past, like Whitman and McGreevey, increased the debt? Because the public doesn’t care about it.”
New Jersey’s state budget doubled in just seven years, with government employment increasing by 15 percent from 2000 through 2006, according to an analysis by Steven Malanga in City Journal Magazine.
Lesniak originated the unsuccessful plan widely known as Gov. Jon Corzine’s ‘Asset Monetization’ scheme. That scheme promised to raise tolls by 800 percent, turn control over state roads to foreign investors and borrow another $45 billion.