COUTINHO: CHRISTE DECISION TO KILL ARC TUNNEL PURE POLITICS

(NEWARK) — After Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement Wednesday that he was again pulling the plug on the single largest public works project in the country — constructing a second commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River — Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee Chairman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) issued the following statement:

“Today’s ill-advised decision by Gov. Christie to cancel the ARC tunnel project is devastating to the short and long term economic interests of New Jersey.

“It is now clear to me that the governor is more concerned about his national political reputation and how this decision is played out on CNN, FOX, and the ultra right radio ‘underworld,’ than he is about the crippling effect this decision will have for future of our state.

“Any economist worth his salt will tell you that you can’t cut your way out of a recession. They will also certify the economic value of ‘infrastructure investment,’ and not confuse it with generic ‘government spending.’ If Gov. Christie or his new found friends on the ultra right don’t believe this, they should check the history books and see how well their current strategy worked for President Hoover.

“Let us be clear: every single major business, industry, smart growth, environmental, transportation, labor and planning and homeland security group in the state has endorsed the need for a second commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River over the past 15 years. Political leaders from both parties — at all levels, including the governor’s current transportation commissioner — have helped shape this project deemed pivotal to New Jersey’s future.

“Even Gov. Christie — as the Republican candidate for governor — endorsed the plan just last year. And, as recently as this past spring, the governor re-endorsed the project as critically important for the state.

“Faced with this evidence, what other conclusion can a reasonable person come to, except that the governor’s action today was purely political?

“The governor’s decision will have the immediate effect of sending 6,000 hard-working men and women to the unemployment line, placing a further drag on the states ailing economy.

“Additionally, the governors action today will cost New Jersey billions of dollars in the long term: from lost federal aid; lost jobs; and lost sales and income tax from workers and businesses relocating or remaining in New York City.

“What’s more, because of the governor’s short-sighted political considerations, residents in Brooklyn and Queens will see their property values increase, while New Jersey communities will see theirs drop or stagnate.

“And, on top of all of this, the governor’s decision has a negative impact on our short and long term environmental health, by preventing us from being able to take 22,000 cars off the road.

“I have tried my hardest to work with the governor in the spirit of bipartisanship, but I absolutely reject his decision today that will likely go down as one of the most short-sighted in New Jersey history.”