‘Green Acres’ borrowing funds political slush funds
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
Last week, Democrat Governor Jon Corzine signed Assembly Bill A3901 into law. Here are some key features of ?The Green Acres Water Supply and Floodplain Protection Bond Act of 2009:?
State government will borrow $400 million, to be paid back, with interest, over the next 35 years. Up to 5% ($20 million) will pay salaries and expenses for the political insiders who will prepare and sell the bonds and dish out the money.
This law is like the Bond Act of 2007. The $200 million we borrowed two years ago was all spent in a few months. But we still have 33 more years of payments.
New Jersey?s Constitution requires voter approval of all state debt. In November of 2007, ex-Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan led a statewide campaign against it. Voters rejected borrowing $450 million projects supposedly related to stem cell research, but narrowly approved $200 million for ?Green Acres? and ?Open Space.? Most suburbs and rural areas voted ?No?, but the political machines in Camden, Trenton, Newark, Jersey City, etc … who got big chunks of that money, delivered enough ?Yes? votes.
In his January 2008 State of the State speech, Democrat Governor Jon Corzine said he was ?shocked? by the Stem Cell defeat and narrow ?Green Acres-Open Space? vote. He said he heard the ?wake-up call? to stop ?irresponsible? borrowing. Corzine said that the $32 billion borrowed by state government in just a few years was more than what the state collected each year in taxes. Corzine called this debt ?unsustainable? since we were spending $4 billion each year (12% of the state budget) ?to pay off our credit cards,? and could not afford needed programs.
When clients in my law office owe more in credit cards than they earn in a year, I usually do a bankruptcy to wipe out their debts. But Chapter 9 bankruptcy for state government was unthinkable to Corzine. That would hurt his old Wall Street firm of Goldman Sachs. Instead, Corzine tried to hock the Turnpike, Parkway, and Expressway, and redeem them with 800% toll hikes. When he couldn?t sell that plan, Corzine forgot that $32 billion of state debt was a problem. He had the Economic Development Authority (EDA) borrow $3.9 billion for school construction without a public vote last year. Now he wants us to borrow $400 million more.
Atlantic and Cape May County Democrat Senators Jim Whelan, Jeff Van Drew, and Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matt Milam all voted for this.
But so did Atlantic County Republican Assemblymen Vince Polistina and John Amodeo ? and statewide Republican ?leaders? like Senators Diane Allen and Tom Kean, Jr.
Who will get this money? Anyone in New Jersey with political clout! Any burned out building in Newark can be bought by the government with ?Open Space Preservation? money. So can the woods and meadows that surround the homes of rich campaign donors, so they don?t have to pay taxes on the greenery that enhances their country mansions.
There is a new ?Blue Acres? program that will let owners of property by scenic lakes and rivers that got flooded out sell to the state at top dollar ? after they collect on their government-subsidized flood insurance.
Since ?Green Acres? money can be spent on any ?recreation? facility, it is routinely used to bulldoze trees and blacktop more meadows for stadiums, ice rinks, and parking lots.
Millions of ?Historic? Preservation? dollars will pay private owners for any old building. In the past, millions were spent to buy and restore failures like Dante Hall, a money losing Atlantic City opera hall built in the 1920?s, and later used by a church. Even Italian immigrants back then preferred attractions on the Boardwalk and Steel Pier to Puccini operas in their Ducktown neighborhood. Schlock motels and diners only 50 years old, also qualify as part of the ?Historic Doo Wop District? of Wildwood!
They should call this program ?$400 Million Cash for Real Estate Clunkers!
But at least with federal ?cash for clunkers? everyone could get $4,500 for their junk SUV or pick-up worth $500. If you want a few hundred thousand bucks for your real estate clunker, you need to buy good political connections!
How ironic. Those who complain the loudest about corruption in New Jersey all just voted $400 million more ?pay to play? money to feed it. Fortunately, our New Jersey Constitution gives you the right to stop this insanity by voting ?No? on that November ballot question.
For information visit www.libertyandprosperity.org or contact Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman at email@example.com or (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussion groups are held 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.