Dems take administration to task over ‘premium’ bonding

TRENTON – Legislative Democrats are making hay with the fact the Christie Administration is not living up to its pay-as-you-go plan to keep healthy the much-depleted Transportation Trust Fund.

Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), of Wood-Ridge, said Wednesday that by now, the administration would have put in some $700 million toward the fund. Thus far, only a little more than $60 million has been put in the fund.

For the next fiscal year, the administration will forego making a PAYGO payment, opting instead for premium bond financing, which essentially provides higher yields upfront by taking advantage of lower interest rates for previous bond transactions. By doing so, more money is produced than the initially estimated par value.

David Rosen, budget officer for the Office of Legislative Services, said the administration would be required to find $490 million of general fund money in fiscal year 2015 “in terms of the plan they laid out.”

Democrats have blasted the plan, calling it a modified form of bonding.

“Premium bond financing is nothing more than borrowing,” Assemblyman Albert Coutinho said Thursday during a budget hearing. “Let’s just call it that.”

Even Rosen weighed in, upon being questioned, that “from 30,000 feet , it looks a lot like borrowing.”

Dems take administration to task over ‘premium’ bonding