Hey, remember the ARC Train project?
For those who don’t keep track of arcane New Jersey political footballs, the project was a long-proposed, long-delayed plan to build an underground light rail tunnel between Newark and NYC. This project got rushed ahead by former Governor Jon Corzine –
Excuse me for a moment: former Governor Jon Corzine. That’s still a pleasure to type out.
..who needed something flashy to try to salvage his re-election bid. Didn’t work; and so Governor Chris Christie (R) came into office facing a program that was going to cost the state of NJ at least 2.7 billion, and probably a good deal more (the state was to be responsible for cost overruns, which were already projecting to be substantial). So Christie killed the program.
This freaked out a bunch of people – mostly Democratic politicians, who have difficulty understanding how a person could possibly refuse to spend money – so they got Christie to delay implementation of said program-killing for a couple of weeks. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s office – which is easily the most prominent Democratic entity involved with this situation – treated that delay as a great and grand victory over the hated Christie: clearly Senator Lautenberg’s office* had made Christie blink.
Ehh. Not so much. A press release came out today confirming the shutdown of the ARC project, based primarily on the sticking point that “no agreement was reached on terms that would assure New Jersey’s taxpayers would not pay more than $2.7 billion for a completed Trans Hudson Express ARC project.” The governor didn’t want to be on the hook for anything from 1.1 to 3 billion dollars, particularly in this economic climate, and doubly particularly when it came to New Jersey. The two weeks turned out to be largely an opportunity for the federal government to come up with some way to salvage the project, and failing. Which should have surprised nobody – and probably didn’t, professional outrage from the Democratic party to the contrary.
See? You can refuse to spend money that you don’t have. Even if you’re a state government. Who would’ve thought it?
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I really hope that I’m not giving anything away to anyone by my implicit suggestion here that Senator Lautenberg himself is… not quite himself, these days.