August 15, 2014
RE: Assembly Speaker Opens Dialogue on Transportation Trust Fund Renewal
League Offers Assistance
On Wednesday, August 13, a Guest Editorial penned by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto appeared in The Record newspaper. That piece, “New Jersey must address transportation funding crisis,”noted the need for extensive investments in our transportation infrastructure, and the looming lack of funds available to meet that need. (Access the op-ed at http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-guest-writers/new-jersey-must-address-transportation-funding-crisis-1.1066542.) The Speaker indicated that he will have the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee conduct a series of hearings to study the crisis and to recommend solutions.
We immediately reached out to Speaker Prieto and to the Transportation Committee Chairman, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, to offer our assistance. It is extremely important that the municipal perspective be brought to bear on essential efforts to renew and replenish the Transportation Trust Fund.
The League had been involved in transportation funding debates for several decades, before we supported the creation of the Trust Fund and the Trust Fund Authority in 1984. We have remained involved, since then, in the periodic renewals of the Fund and in the annual appropriations process.
On May 1, New Jersey DOT then-Commissioner Jim Simpson announced that the State’s Transportation Trust Fund was just 14 months away from a $620 million deficit. Earlier this year, New Jersey Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told lawmakers to expect the Administration’s plan to address the shortfall early next year. On May 16, we reached out to the Treasurer and the Commissioner of DOT offering our assistance in the policy development process.
The State Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that New Jersey's municipalities are responsible for 64 percent (28,539 center line road miles) of our roads. County governments are responsible for another 22 percent (6,649 center line road miles). Together, local governments are responsible for 39 percent of our bridges. Local roadways and bridges carry about 55 percent of all traffic.
Local officials know that investments in these assets must be made. Failure to do so can compromise the safety of the public, the economic vitality of our communities and the security of our neighborhoods. We are, therefore, gratified that in the Speaker’s Guest Editorial, he indicated the hopes that reforms could result in increased funding for local projects, which could, in turn, allow mayors to provide meaningful property tax relief.
At this critical time, our effort to effectively present the local government perspective on vital transportation funding policies, and to renew and replenish the Transportation Trust Fund, will be coordinated by Mayor Tim McDonough of Hope Township, with assistance from Mayor David DelVecchio of Lambertville. Both of these League Past Presidents have represented local government and promoted municipal interests before various State transportation policy development bodies, in the past – most recently in 2009, when they appeared before then-Governor elect Chris Christie’s Transition Committee on Transportation Policy. We have also contacted the Association of Counties, with which we will cooperate on this issue.
Please let your State Senator and your representatives in the General Assembly know that the League stands ready to assist in the development of essential transportation funding programs. If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very truly yours,
|Hon. Suzanne M. Walters,
President, NJLM and
Mayor, Stone Harbor Borough
|William G. Dressel, Jr.