Friday, September 04, 2015

Christie Helping Friends And Family

In New Jersey, the Christie Administration is

advertising for a financial advisor to help three New Jersey transportation agencies track spending on capital projects. Actually, the administration must see a pretty rosy future for the cash-strapped TTF -- which runs out of spending money at the end of the coming fiscal year -- the RFP for the financial advisor job calls for a three-year contract. (Firms interested in filling the slot must respond by September 9).

By the end of the year

revenue from New Jersey’s 14.5-cent gas tax and other sources of cash for the trust fund will only cover its significant debt -- unless the tax is increased or some other funding option is agreed on.

But the request for proposals issued by Treasury makes no direct reference to the funding crunch, and agency spokesman Christopher Santarelli said yesterday the search for a financial advisor is unrelated to the current status of the trust fund.

According to Treasury’s request, the financial advisor will be asked to work over the next three years with the state Department of Transportation, New Jersey Transit, and the state Transportation Trust Fund Authority, which administers financing for road, bridge, and rail projects.

It is a crisis, as is typical in New Jersey, of the Governor's own making as he "has already confronted a similar transportation-funding predicament. He avoided raising New Jersey's gas tax in a five-year plan rolled out in 2011, instead relying heavily on new borrowing and funds from outside sources like the Port Authority and highway tolls."

Chris Christie doesn't break promise(s) only on pensions, not when he can squeeze transit riders in the most densely populated state in the nation. Consider

He also pledged in 2011 to increase the use of “pay-as-you-go” funding out of the state budget to ease the reliance on borrowing, but has not lived up to that promise in recent years. And to fill the gap, the state has instead had to use bond premiums and other sources of funding.

The plan for the current fiscal year calls for the use of $281 million in cash balances and the return of $241.5 million in funds borrowed by New Jersey Transit, an agency facing its own budget issues as it prepares to implement a 9 percent fare hike. Several Democratic lawmakers have called for increasing New Jersey's gas tax to renew the trust fund, but Christie has yet to take a firm position....

With his eyes set on the Republic nomination for President, Christie ended the millionaire's tax and refused to increase the gas tax in a state with gas prices perennially lower than most other states. Having bled the trust fund (nearly) dry, he advertises for a private sector firm, which he will choose, will be under his control, and be paid for by the public. Sweet deal being governor of New Jersey, especially for an authoritarian.

This is nothing new for this character.  The state pays (graph from New Jersey State Investment Council via International Business Times/Hanna Sender) more to financial firms to manage the pension system than does almost any state, and much of that goes to a firm employing Chris' wife as a managing director. Vetoing legislation which would have required the state to reveal fees paid to outside investment managers was an easy call for a governor who has raised pay-to-play to an art form.

The governor's interest in laying off business onto friends and relatives is one that can be adapted to almost any situation.  The governor recently suggested (video below) an innovative approach to immigration enforcement when

I'm going to have Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, come work for the government for three months. Just come for three months to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and show these people," the New Jersey governor said at a town hall event here.

Christie added that while FedEx can track boxes, the U.S. can't track undocumented immigrants.

"You go online and at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is," he said. "Yet we let people come into this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them."

Christie added, "We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in and then when your time is up," he said. "However long your visa is, then we go get you and tap you on the shoulder and say, 'Excuse me, it's time to go.'"


That's a bad enough idea on its own, made even worse because FedEx (unlike UPS) is largely non-union, Christie's kind of company.  But there is another reason Chris wants to invite FedEx to feed at the trough:

Smith is the father of Samantha Smith, a Christie spokeswoman.

There was a time when Chris Christie was the Great Moderate Hope, perceived by the media as the guy who would put aside all those extreme GOP views on God, guns, and gays and get down to the real business of governing for the 1%. Now he is becoming only another far-right also-ran, but still is what he always has been: not someone who governs for the benefit of consumers, workers, or even taxpayers, but just another political hack.

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