It’s been a while since I’ve lived in New Jersey, although I see it frequently from the Hudson River’s other shore. And I’m really curious to know how actual New Jersey residents feel about Gov. Christie so far. ‘Cause if I still lived there, I don’t think I’d like him much.
First, he killed the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project, already underway, which would have provided new train tunnels under the Hudson from New Jersey to midtown Manhattan. The tunnel was considered essential to New Jersey’s future economic growth.
And commuting from New Jersey into Manhattan, which half the state seems to do every weekday, is slow, stressful, exhausting. The amount of gasoline burned as traffic creeps across the George Washington Bridge or through the Lincoln tunnel every morning and evening is incalculable. And I haven’t seen any estimates of how many people lost jobs when the project stopped.
Richard C. Leone writes for the Newark Star-Ledger that many “saw the step as a ploy to redirect New Jerseyâ€™s share of the cost of the tunnel to the stateâ€™s Transportation Trust Fund, which is broke.” Normally the Transportation Trust Fund would be replenished by adjusting the state gasoline tax. But of course there is nothing more important than not raising a tax.
The essential paradox is that curtailing public-sector projects when confronting a weak economy is damaging in two ways. First, it ignores the healthy effects on the overall economy of a boost in capital spending by either the public or private sector. Infrastructure jobs tend to pay well and, of course, have a multiplier effect as those who work on such projects spend more on other goods and services.
Secondly, capital expenditures have a beneficial, long-term effect on economic growth.
Despite these factors, which are pretty much acknowledged by economists of just about every stripe, the United States is falling behind in infrastructure â€” and not just behind the most advanced nations. We are lagging well behind the huge capital outlays in China, for example. Of course, giving up something now in order to have more later requires a certain amount of trust in the entity making the investments.
In our case, we are experiencing billions of dollars being spent to argue the case that government canâ€™t be trusted to do anything.
Now Christie’s balancing the state’s budget by cutting 1,200 state government jobs. And he promises to “monitor tax revenues and make adjustments if warranted.” But revenues are likely to go down because of job losses, so more layoffs will be needed.
At least Christie says (so far) he’s resisting the many calls to run for president in 2012. What a guy.
Update: The Washington senate race has been called for Patty Murray.