NJ Transit just proposed hiking train & bus fares and reducing service. That will mean more expensive & difficult commutes for half a million riders. Let’s call this what it is: a back door tax on struggling families who can least afford to pay. And how we got here is no mystery. Gov. Christie has slashed funding for New Jersey transit by 90% since taking office in 2010, while giving out ever increasing tax breaks to big corporations. New Jersey isn’t broke – it’s being robbed.
When Gov. Christie took office, funding for New Jersey Transit stood at $320 million. He then raised fares 22 percent while dramatically cutting transit funding. This year his investment in New Jersey Transit is a pathetic $33.2 million.
And where did all that money – that should be keeping our buses and trains running – actually go? Millionaires are paying about $1 billion less in taxes, and corporations saw their taxes cut by $2.6 billion.
Christie even gave $1.7 billion in corporate subsidies to businesses that moved their offices closer to mass transit. That’s right: Christie gave hundreds of millions to Panasonic and Prudential to move closer to New Jersey’s transit system… while asking train and bus riders to cough up more to keep that transit system running.
This is one terrible symptom of a much larger problem. Our state budget is out of balance with the needs of working people. For the last five years New Jersey cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy and paid for it with a combination of hidden tax hikes on working families and devastating cuts to transit, education, and other essential public goods on which we all rely.
There are better choices legislators can and should make to bring our budget – and our economy – back into balance. But if we want that to happen, we have to stand up and speak out.