Where Bill Spedding Stands
on the Issues
Should we postpone public sector infrastructure improvements until the economy is strong again?
Rather than postponing public sector infrastructure improvements, we should take advantage of the difficult economy contractors face and accelerate them.
Although major reconstruction and repairs should accelerate, there is another facet to congestion on our highways, namely traffic bottle-necks at intersections. We have all witnessed traffic continuing to build up during rush hour, wasting gas and polluting our air and lowering commuter’s quality of life. These problems require a dramatic increase in design and land acquisition. Many of these require an over pass. This would allow the full capacity of the highway to be utilized.
Other intersections with state highways and / or important secondary roads require additional lanes for the road with lighter level of traffic. This would allow vehicles to cross quickly. The main thorofare would flow much more freely, thus eliminating waiting/idling time and dramatically reducing total travel time.
The cost of mitigating local intersection congestion and maintenance of roads should be substantially funded by higher motor vehicle registration taxes on all new vehicle registrations. The cost should be scaled, with much higher fees for vehicles with low EPA ratings and only modestly higher for fuel efficient vehicles. These higher annual taxes would apply to any vehicle not currently registered in N.J. This revenue would gradually reduce transportation related property taxes.
Since New Jersey has been the most densely populated state for decades, efforts to improve mass transit infrastructure must be increased. In addition to improved commuter service to the core of both metro areas we should also aggressively promote commercial construction and development adjacent to nearby suburban train stations. In addition to creating new commercial jobs it would also stimulate job creation in the construction industry.
In addition to giving New Jersey’s economy immediate stimulation, a substantially improved transportation system would make the state more competitive as a place to live and do business. These changes would improve the environment, the overall quality of life, and reduce the cost of living and doing business in New Jersey.
Transportation Trust Fund
In addition to the critically important long term enhancement of the Transportation Trust Fund, I favor a major general obligation bond issue to fund the immediate upgrading of infrastructure. This should be funded with general obligation bonds for a few years. The law increasing the fuel tax must be enacted now and become effective in few years. This would allow those wishing to purchase vehicles to plan for the increased fuel tax.
The primary cause of inefficiency in the public sector work force is poor management due to political interference. I do not favor abolishing Civil Service any place where it already exists. Civil Service needs some reforms. It was established more than 130 years ago by President Hays, a Republican, because of the flaws and abuses of the “Spoil System” established by President Jackson, a Democrat. Progressive discipline in a Civil Service environment works well but is inadequately used because of political pressures on managers.
Why not abolish Tenure?
Tenure, like Civil Service, is not total lifetime job security. It merely provides that basic due process is provided to employees who have been recognized as qualified to perform the duties of their job. Performance problems that become chronic exist because managers fail to exercise their responsibilities. This is occasionally due to direct political interference or more commonly due to fear of political consequences.
Preserve total home rule or consolidation at local government level?
By far, most of the over spending in NJ government is at the local level. This includes not only municipalities and school districts, but utility authorities, fire districts and counties. Reportedly, Bergen County has more fire equipment than NYC which has more than 8 times as many people and far more commercial development.
The salaries and fringes of a few of the highest paid employees (both uniform and non-uniform) should be excluded from the calculation of need when determining state aid. This would pressure entities to consolidate functions like Police Chief, Superintendent of Schools, Business Administrator or construction officials. This is particularly true where state certification is required.
Tax assessment should be performed uniformly on a county wide basis.
If the state did extensive analysis of time, material, and wage rates for basic activities, staffing levels could be estimated and aid could be based on legitimate cost factors.