Fixing Roads & Bridges is Essential to Growing New Jersey’s Economy

June 26th, 2013  |  by  |  Published in Budget and Tax Policy, NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact ..., Press Releases

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUNE 26 2013

Contact: Jon Whiten, whiten@njpp.org or 609-393-1145 ext 15

Investing additional state funds to jumpstart the process of making New Jersey’s roads and bridges safe, reliable and efficient would help grow the state’s economy far more than phasing in a tax cut, according to a new report released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP).

The report, the second in the Invest in New Jersey series, examines how far behind the state has fallen in the upkeep of its roads and bridges, and makes a series of recommendations on how to begin to rectify the problem.

“New Jersey’s roads and bridges are quite literally falling apart, and the revenue streams intended to rebuild them are not sufficient to address the state’s urgent needs,” said Gordon MacInnes, President of New Jersey Policy Perspective and the author of the report. “Investing in our roads and bridges will create jobs, increase public safety and save future taxpayers $4 to $5 billion in interest costs.”

The state needs to invest $21.3 billion in the next five years, $7.5 billion more than current financing can provide, according to April’s nonpartisan Facing Our Future report. These are the investments required just to maintain existing roads and bridges, not to expand them or build new roads.

New Jersey will generate approximately $5.3 billion of the $7.5 billion it needs between 2014 and 2018 by using the federal and state tax revenues already dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund. Over eight years, the state could invest $10 billion to address its crumbling roads and bridges. Projects that are currently scheduled for future years could be put on a fast track, allowing them to be funded at lower costs and providing much-needed jobs to help the state’s economy.

Using scarce revenues in this manner would also help local property taxpayers. The Transportation Trust Fund currently provides $200 million each year to support county and municipal road construction, which relieves local property taxpayers of these costs. If an additional $10 billion were available over the next eight years, this funding for local projects should be at least doubled, providing further relief to property taxpayers while giving them safer, smoother roads and ensuring that all of New Jersey’s roads and bridges benefit from the state’s investment.

Investing $10 billion in cash over the eight-year period will also save future taxpayers $4 billion to $5 billion in interest costs compared to funding the same amount of work by issuing bonds.

The Invest in New Jersey series is designed to broaden the policy debate over how to distribute state revenues as the economy rebounds. It offers alternatives to simply reducing the size of government and cutting taxes, instead focusing on investments that are more proven drivers of the economy. The first report focused on higher education; the next will focus on expanding high-quality preschool for New Jersey’s poor and working families.


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