Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Matters Of Monetization

Sorting through the arguments for and against monetization forces us to spot misinformation, pick apart misleading statements and take everything with a grain of salt. To take a head-scratching quote from Donald Rumsfeld, Governor Jon Corzine’s still secret monetization plan is a, “known, unknown.” We know something is coming, but we don’t know what it is. Until recently we weren’t even sure a proposal was a sure bet and that’s part of the confusion.

Early last month, Governor Corzine said, "There are a number of very precise questions that have a lot to do with whether the program is something I would recommend…..it's possible that if we didn't get the kind of opinion that I thought that we needed, that this is an idea that I wouldn't pursue." A couple of weeks later former Treasurer and current Corzine chief of staff Brad Abelow said, “We are going to come forward with a proposal around this thing that has been called monetization."

Corzine says critics of the monetization plan should reserve judgment until there is an actual proposal. He said last week, "It's not responsible to say, 'I don't like this piece,' when you've gotta deal with the problem and you've gotta have a solution." If you believe this is a fair statement, and many do, do you then believe it is unfair for Corzine to use the same unproposed monetization plan as a possible solution when talking about the need for money to address, transportation, school construction, open space and more? If the unknown plan can’t be criticized, why is it okay to laud it?

Incumbents and challengers in key races from both parties are using the public’s skepticism over the monetization of toll roads as they hold press conference after press conference. Democrats and Republicans, particularly those whose districts have a toll road running through it are railing against the plan saying they oppose the sale or lease of the toll roads. This is tantamount to saying they oppose the Governor’s proposal to kick puppies because there is no such proposal. Corzine has made it clear he has NO plans to sell or lease the toll roads.

The one aspect of the monetization argument many feel has been handled most effectively is the Corzine Administration’s ability to illustrate to the people that New Jersey is cash-strapped yet again and the State needs to find money somewhere. Where that cash is found will have a very real impact on the residents of the Garden State.

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