(TRENTON) — Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) issued a multimedia package Monday in which he discusses the state’s Transportation Trust Fund and NJ Transit’s proposed 9 percent fare hike and service cancellations.
The multimedia package consists of Speaker Prieto’s comments and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto:
“You can’t have a first world economy with a third world road system. We need to invest.
“The Transportation Trust Fund is been one of my major objectives to get accomplished, because when I became Speaker, I knew that we were coming to the end of the line: that every cent that we collect is going to pay down debt. We have kicked the can down the road so far that our children, our grandchildren, are the ones that are going to be paying higher taxes that we’re using on roads today.
“What has happened is, in the last five years, we were supposed to have in this capital plan, we were supposed to have $1.8 billion pay-go. That’s money that you would invest every year. Only $65 million were put in. So that means virtually every penny has been borrowed, which is unacceptable. Then, for this last year is being piecemealed together.
“And that’s why I’ve been so upset about what’s happening. $600 million is going to be from borrowing, but they took back $241 million from New Jersey Transit as a repayment of a loan. And then you have now New Jersey Transit come out and say that, well we have a deficit. We need to raise fares nine percent. We’re gonna cut services. Now you’re raising taxes. You’re taking from one pocket, put it in the other. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. And then now on the people that are most vulnerable, that need this mass transit, you’re actually raising taxes on them.
“And this is on the back of the last time, five years ago, we had the highest fare increase in the state’s history, New Jersey Transit, I believe it was, like 22 percent. So within five years you have raised — you know, or you’re planning to raise — a total of approximately 31 percent, you know, on fares. You’re crushing the middle class.
“And if we invest in our road infrastructure, that will create jobs and in turn, those people will buy goods, services and it will be a spur to the economy that that’s what we need. And when you can invest a dollar and get two dollars in return when you would do for transportation infrastructure — I think the whole state wins, and this would be a win-win for our economy.
“So, people and companies will come to the State of New Jersey if we invest.”