From the Asbury Park Press:
Gov. Corzine made his strongest pitch yet Thursday for using a state asset, such as toll roads or the state lottery, to generate a cash infusion, saying New Jersey needs dramatic action to pay for pressing needs such as new schools and expanded health care.
While Corzine said New Jersey can get by this year with no tax hikes and an increase in property tax relief, he warned that ongoing financial problems leave almost no money available to care for the disabled, increase health coverage, preserve open space and pay for rising pension and benefit costs.
“We all have a vision for a brighter New Jersey, but today we can’t afford the investments to make our vision a reality,” Corzine said.
With the highlights of his $33.3 billion budget proposal widely known and mostly uncontroversial, Corzine spent much of his 33-minute address to the Legislature arguing for the potential benefits of “monetizing” state assets to reduce debt and free up money for other priorities.
“Asset monetization gives us the potential to reduce our crushing debt burden and meet New Jersey’s long-term capital needs in a way no other alternative provides,” Corzine said, adding that such a plan could provide nearly $1 billion a year.
The alternatives, Corzine said, are higher taxes or drastic budget cuts. While he did not propose a specific plan for leveraging roads or the lottery into cash, Corzine said the idea would be a continuing focus for his administration.