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October 07, 2010

Chris Christie: No, I'm Quite Serious, I'm Not Spending Money We Don't Have

Additional tunnels with trains were to be built below the Hudson, increasing train connectivity between NJ and NYC.

The plan was... well, it's not a bad plan. I generally support this kind of government spending, on planes, trains, and automobiles.

But NJ is out of money. "Nice but not necessary" should get cut, but rarely does, because, like, oh my God you can't just stop building a tunnel.

Yes you can.

Christie said the tunnel project costs “far more than New Jersey taxpayers can afford and the only prudent move is to end this project.”

James Weinstein, the executive director of NJ Transit, in a statement, said while the state recognized the importance and value of a cross-Hudson transportation improvement project, “the current economic climate in New Jersey simply does not allow for this project to continue considering the substantial additional costs that are required.”

Memo from ARC Project Executive Committee

The governor said he has directed the state’s transportation officials to explore other approaches to modernize and expand rail capacity into New York. “However, any future project must recognize the regional and national scale of such an effort and work within the scope of the State’s current fiscal and economic realities,” he said.

Christie called a 30-day temporary halt in September on new tunnel construction, as behind-the-scenes cost projections suggested the tunnel project costs would swell more than $1 billion above the $8.7 million proposed price tag. He said he didn’t want the New Jersey version of Boston’s "Big Dig" — a tunnel mega-project that saw the final tally climb to nearly ten times the original $2.8 billion estimate.

Wait -- 8.7 million with a 1 billion overrun??!!

No, they mean 8.7 billion. Yeah, I looked it up for once. Yay, me.

I left the error in to prove other people do it too, you know.

Oh, and that $1 billion in overruns seems on the low side.

According to the governor, cost overruns are estimated to be in a range from more than $2 billion to over $5 billion.

A bit more: the project was rushed to give Corzine an election year photo-op.

Tunnel opponents maintained the project was rushed together so then-Gov. Jon Corzine could get a re-election campaign photo opportunity at a ceremonial groundbreaking in summer 2009.

Click on the link to JWF to read Paul Krugman hyperventilating about how awful this is.

Krugman does have something of a point: Since the feds were kicking in $3 billion and the Port Authority $3 billion, with the state supposed to pick up the remaining $2.7 billion and all additional overruns, canceling the project loses the state money. I mean, I suppose if you could just pay that $2.7 billion and get an additional $6 billion tossed into the deal, that might be a good deal.

But look, it's not going to be $2.7 billion. It won't be $3.7 billion. It probably won't be $4.7 billion and it might not even be just $7.7 billion.

We saw what happened with the Big Dig.

And: The state doesn't have the money, whatever it is.

And what Krugman's really steamed about is that Christie won't just break his campaign pledge to raise gas taxes.

That's what his problem really is; liberals have in mind an ever-expanding state, and for that they need ever-expanding tax revenues. Until now they have had relatively little pushback: they get slowdowns in the rate of expansion of taxation, but usually no sustained rollback.

Christie represents a direct threat to that, and therefore to Paul Krugman's dreams of a well-funded, gold-plated, tax-vampire Colossus State.

So this isn't just about a tunnel for him. This is about a direct challenge to his sense of well-being.

Sorry, Paul, but if you're looking for Santa Claus, you came to the wrong place.

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posted by Ace at 03:54 PM

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