Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie has seized on Gov. Jon Corzine's statement to the New York Times that he would consider revisiting asset monetization in his next term - a political gift to Christie with just days to go before the election.
"As if $9 billion in new taxes, the highest tax burden in the country and the highest property taxes in the nation isn't enough, Jon Corzine wants to pay off the debt he's created by making suffocating New Jerseyans pay even more in the form of an 800 percent toll hike. Let's face it, Jon Corzine likes raising taxes and he's never going to stop doing it," said Christie in a statement this morning.
Corzine told the Times that the original plan was "too big, too fast, and at the wrong time," but that "this idea worked... So maybe we just need to scale it back."
Republican leaders latched onto the statement as well, each offering their own condemnation of the two-year-old plan that entailed leasing the state's toll roads to private entities, who would make a profit by raising tolls. The plan met with a cranky public at town hall meetings in most of the state's counties, and marked the beginning of Corzine's decline in public opinion polls.
Now the Corzine campaign has been forced to push back hard. Corzine spokesman Sean Darcy said that the Governor is not open to revisiting the plan to lease the state's toll roads or raise tolls at all.
"He's not goign to lease the toll roads. He has no plans to raise tolls, period," he said. "He's talked about looking at options like selling signage and space for charging stations for electric vehicles."
Moreover, Darcy said, Christie in the same article backpedaled on earlier campaign promises.
"The only thing he said he'd do is give tax breaks to the wealthy while breaking his promises to the middle class," he said.
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"Enlisting Fox is another reminder of how much Christie has truly relied on insiders, including Democrats, to bolster his agenda or bail him out of trouble. Not long after arriving in Trenton in 2009, Christie began collaborating with George Norcross, the deeply entrenched Democratic Party kingmaker, to help him cut deals with a Democratic-controlled Legislature.
When his close ally David Samson resigned as chairman of the Port Authority over conflict-of-interest questions earlier this year, Christie replaced Samson with John Degnan, a pillar of the Democratic Party establishment. And now, confronted with a crisis, Christie has turned to “Jamie,’’ as Fox has been known throughout political circles since he began as an aide in the Democratic Senate in the 1980s." - columnist Charles Stile
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