Mayor and Council are correct that the work stoppage on the Morris Avenue Bridge is unfortunate, but there is a silver lining. When the money disappeared, the State stopped spending. And the State did not borrow.
This is not to defend Governor Christie or the State legislators for their goals and negotiating methods. But if such moratoria were consistently applied throughout the State when money runs out, New Jersey would be in far better fiscal condition.
There are three corollaries:
- Pay as you go; don't borrow. Interest rates are low, but money borrowed, even for free, has to be returned. And money will not be free indefinitely. Capital projects do provide long-term benefit, but for the State, capital projects come due on a year-over-year basis.
- If a liability is not funded, don't incur it. Fund first, then incur. If the State had been true to this directive, there would be no unfunded pension liability.
- Balance the budget, including paying down the debt and funding the liability.
I do hope that a way can be found to complete the Morris Avenue project, but I also hope that the way found will be fiscally responsible.