GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL MEMBERS OF FINANCIAL RESTRUCTURING AND DEBT REDUCTION STEERING COMMITTEE
Leaders from across New Jersey sign on to help promote Governor’s Initiative
TRENTON - Governor Jon S. Corzine today announced new members of the Financial Restructuring and Debt Reduction Campaign Steering Committee. The new members represent a large swath of New Jersey perspectives including: higher education, state and local government, labor, business, healthcare and public service organizations. These new members will join the existing 17 members of the steering committee, along with former Congressman Bob Franks, and will assist in varying ways to advocate and educate the public about this proposal, as well as continue to provide counsel to the Governor.
“As we continue this statewide discussion about the best way to right New Jersey’s fiscal ship, pay down debt and fund transportation, I’m encouraged that these new members have agreed to lend their assistance in this important endeavor,” Governor Corzine said. “These individuals agree that by paying down half of our state’s debt and implementing new spending restrictions we can get off the road of financial ruin and back on track towards a better future.”
The following new members were announced today: Bob Altenkirch, President, New Jersey Institute of Technology; Sivaraman Anbarasan, Dean of Corporate and Community Education, Sussex County Community College; Virginia Bauer, Commissioner, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Former Secretary of Commerce; Robert Briant Jr., CEO Utility & Transportation Contractors Association; Anthony Cicatiello, Chairman, CN Communications; Gwendolyn Faison, Mayor, City of Camden; Carl Golden, former Press Secretary for Governor Kean and former Communications Director for Governor Whitman; Alex Hatala, President & CEO, Lourdes Health System Camden, NJ; Connie Hughes, Former BPU Commissioner; Ralph LaRossa, President and COO of PSE&G; Virginia Lazala, Executive Director & Sr. Pharmaceuticals Counsel USEH, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Daniel Lombardo President, Volunteers of America Delaware Valley; Richard McCormick, President, Rutgers University; Peter McDonough, former Director of Communications to Governor Whitman; Pam Miller, Vice President, Market Strategy and Development, Medco Health Solutions, Inc., African American Coalition on Diversity; William Mullen, President, New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council.
“Government oft-times must choose between what is right and what is easy. Too often, it has chosen the latter. As a consequence, New Jersey has become a debtor state,” said Carl Golden, former Press Secretary for Governor Kean and former Communications Director for Governor Whitman. “The Governor's program to greatly ease the punishing debt burden on the state's taxpayers and impose rigid controls over future state spending may be difficult medicine but it is a remedy which must be administered if fiscal stability is to be restored.”
“As a long term public servant I am proud to join this effort to get our fiscal health in order by capping spending and reducing debt,” said Connie Hughes, former Board of Public Utilities Commissioner.
“As the state's largest utility, PSE&G is an important part of New Jersey's infrastructure, and we understand the need to continually invest in our delivery system for the benefit of our more than 2 million electric and gas customers,” said Ralph LaRossa, president and COO of PSE&G. “We're pleased to lend our support and expertise to help the Governor shore up New Jersey's critical transportation infrastructure - as well as the state's long-term financial strength and stability.”
“Governor Corzine has put together a responsible plan that will realign New Jersey’s finances and bring our state of the red,” said Dan Lombardo, President and CEO, Volunteers of America Delaware Valley. “He has shown courage and commitment to his principles and beliefs and I look forward to working with him over the next several months to ensure that a ‘common sense’ budget is approved in June.”
“From the perspective of public higher education, Governor Corzine has set forth a bold and comprehensive plan for dealing with our state’s truly serious fiscal realities. The legislative session now under way will afford opportunities to examine his proposal with care,” said Richard McCormick, President, Rutgers University. “I commend the Governor for his courage and support the essential directions he has proposed. It’s time for our state and our citizens to make these tough decisions and to make them together.”
“The strict and meaningful fiscal controls that are at the core of this plan are essential to the future of the state,” said Pete McDonough, former Communications Director for Governor Whitman. “The Governor has offered up these controls and the legislature should take him up on his offer.”
“I’m honored to be part of this steering committee, the Governor has laid out a bold and innovative plan,” said Pam Miller, Vice President, Market Strategy and Development, Medco Health Solutions, Inc. “The Governor is committed to repairing the ills of the past to give New Jersey a bright, promising and prosperous future. I’m proud to offer my assistance.”
Governor Corzine has previously stated that he is open to considering thoughtful alternative solutions to solving New Jersey’s debt crisis and funding transportation infrastructure. The Governor will work with the steering committee to carefully consider any alternative solutions provided.
The Governor’s financial restructuring and debt reduction initiative calls for state spending for next fiscal year to be frozen at this year’s level, and also ensures that spending will not be able to exceed revenues moving forward. Governor Corzine’s proposal unlocks the value in New Jersey’s toll roads to pay down 50% of the State’s debt and permanently fund statewide transportation improvements. The financial restructuring and debt reduction initiative also calls for a constitutional amendment requiring voter approval on any future debt issuance not backed by a dedicated revenue source.
Currently, New Jersey has one of the highest debt burdens in the country with $32 billion in bonded debt. As a result, every man, woman and child in New Jersey personally owns $3,700 of bonded State debt, about three times higher than the national average. This State debt means that the first $860 paid in individual State taxes goes to interest and debt payments. New Jersey’s unfounded pension obligations currently stand at $25 billion, with its future health care costs for retirees at $60 billion. This combination of bonded debt and unfounded liabilities translates to a debt of $45,000 per household.
Recently an article about the Governor’s proposal in the Record of Bergen County quoted Mark Tenenhaus, a vice president at the credit house Moody’s, stating, “All in all, if the plan is put in place in its entirety, it would address many of the concerns that revolve around New Jersey's general obligation credit rating and its fiscal operations.”
New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is also currently due to expire in 2011. Without this funding, potholes cannot be filled, roads cannot be built and bridges cannot be maintained safely. We would also not be able to buy new buses, add trains or improve mass transit services, while losing billions in federal transit dollars.
Former Republican Congressman Bob Franks has signed on as Chairman of the Financial Restructuring and Debt Reduction Campaign. Other announced supporters include Congressman Rob Andrews, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the 17 previously announced members of the Financial Restructuring and Debt Reduction Campaign Steering Committee. These Individuals are helping to build support for the Governor’s Financial Restructuring and Debt Reduction Plan all the while reinforcing the fact that this will finally set New Jersey’s finances on the right track.
Photos from Governor Corzine's public events are available in the Governor's Newsroom section on the State of New Jersey web page, http://www.nj.gov/governor/news/