In the Republican style: New Jersey’s Chris Christie

October of 2010:

The largest public transit project in the nation, a commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River to Manhattan, was halted on Thursday by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey because, he said, the state could not afford its share of the project’s rising cost…

The governor, a Republican, said he decided to withdraw his support for the project on Thursday after hearing from state transportation officials that the project would cost at least $2.5 billion more than its original price of $8.7 billion.

But Christie lied.

Now, a report from the Government Accountability Office makes it clear that the cost-cutting talk was political bluster. Mr. Christie estimated that the project could cost more than $14 billion, of which New Jersey would have had to pay 70 percent if you counted federal stimulus dollars and Port Authority money. The report said later federal estimates ranged from $9.8 billion to $12.4 billion and that the state’s real share was 14.4 percent. The benefits would have been huge…

The report, which Mr. Christie continues to dispute, cited estimates that home values and tax revenues would have risen, and that the construction would have added $9 billion to the regional economy.

It would have done so much good. But the Governor wasn’t having it.

At the time, analysts predicted that the project would raise New Jersey property values by $18 billion and allow $50 billion in new wages to come back to the state from New York City.

What a tragedy for New Jersey. And none of it makes any sense…until it does.

As Streetsblog reported at the time, it was all about New Jersey’s empty, debt-ridden transportation trust fund. New Jersey’s gas tax, the third-lowest in the country, hasn’t been raised for 23 years. The infrastructure funding woes that can be found across the country, therefore, are even more acute there. When Christie killed the ARC tunnel, the highway trust fund was expected to go bankrupt within a year.

Because the Republican wouldn’t raise the gas tax a couple pennies, the transportation fund was broke. So he killed the tunnel, stole the federal government’s money and then deposited it in New Jersey’s account. And though it earned the state an expensive federal lawsuit, he declared himself Fiscally Responsible. What a clever little man. Maybe he should run for president.

But of course Chris Christie is a big fat liar.

THE decision by the administration of Gov. Chris Christie to settle an environmental lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corporation for roughly three cents on the dollar after more than a decade of litigation is an embarrassment to law enforcement and good government.

Even more troubling are the circumstances surrounding the decision, which recently came to light. As a judge deliberated whether to assess the $8.9 billion in damages New Jersey sought, the administration stepped in and agreed to take about $250 million and settle the case.

The state of New Jersey had won their environmental damage case against ExxonMobil. Their prosecutors were waiting to see how much – if not all – of their $8.9 billion claim the judge would award. But then Christie stepped in.

Former colleagues of mine in state government, where I served as commissioner of environmental protection from 2002 to 2006, have told me that Mr. Christie’s chief counsel inserted himself into the case, elbowed aside the attorney general and career employees who had developed and prosecuted the litigation, and cut the deal favorable to Exxon.

The oil giant, one of the most profitable energy companies in the world, had already been found liable. The only question that remained was, how much would it have to pay?

Now we know, and the result is a disgrace.

So ExxonMobil got away with barely a scratch.

I don’t see how this is good government. A fully-funded $8.7 billion dollar tunnel project that returns many more billions back to the people of New Jersey is too expensive for the skinflint governor, or so he says, and he kills it. But an $8.9 billion dollar lawsuit that the state had already won is quick-settled for pennies on the dollar, without so much as a plausible reason, or public comment. All of this leaves New Jersey short…$8.7 billion dollars. Meanwhile, his vaunted transportation fund

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit advocacy and transportation policy organization called the fund’s insolvency “a legitimate crisis” worsened by the fact that Christie’s 2016 budget calls for slashing transportation spending by 8.4 percent, or about $119 million less than the current fiscal year.

…is once again broke. Oh, if only the governor hadn’t butted into the courtroom. The settlement from the lawsuit could have bankrolled the entire trust fund for 6 years. Or it could have plugged the hole in New Jersey’s yearly budget – the Christie Crisis – for the next 11 years. Or it could have paid for that old tunnel project, ignoring the fact it had of course already been bought and paid for, until some politician scotched it then pocketed the government money.

So it turns out that Chris Christie is not really fiscally responsible. He is in fact shockingly reckless, self-serving and stupid. And while as governor he should be trying to better the lives of his own constituents, he’d just prefer to grease his own dick. He’s…well, a Republican. I’d certainly be interested to hear what the famous loudmouth has to say about all this, but I get the feeling he’s currently hiding somewhere.

Christie was scheduled to give the opening speech at the American Enterprise Institute’s World Forum at a luxury resort on Sea Island, according to Bloomberg News. Corporate documents show that ExxonMobil has been a major benefactor of AEI, a conservative think tank in Washington whose scholars have disputed the scientific consensus on climate change and touted ExxonMobil as a “taxation hero.”

Or hanging out with old friends…

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