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ATLANTIC CITY, NJ-Admitting that, “voters are rightfully fed up,” Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday offered up some hints of his plans to put the state’s fiscal house in order. Speaking at a New Jersey League of Municipalities meeting here yesterday, Corzine promised to unveil the specifics in January, after the new legislature is seated.

“The voters are crying out for ideas and for the leadership to fix the fiscal mess that we have in our state government,” Corzine said. “It’s time we elected officials stop being afraid and cautious and do something bold to right this ship. It’s time for an ‘out-of-the-box’ effort to get this great state back on a rational financial footing.”

Turning to what he called, “my secret asset monetization plan,” Corzine told attendees that, “without reducing our debt burden, our financial situation will not allow us to make needed investment in critical infrastructure or rationally balance the books. So today, when I tell you the details aren’t finalized, it’s because we want to make sure that when we get one chance at serious financial restructuring, it is done right.”

Corzine also offered up some numbers–such as $32 billion in bonded debt facing the state. On top of that, there’s another $75 billion in unfunded liabilities resulting from, “the failure to set aside payments for pensions and medical benefits” for retired state employees.

The governor also touched on the fact that his plan will involve leveraging the value of the state’s toll roads as a means of paying down debt and providing permanent funding for the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. That said, “there will be no sale of any roads, period,” he insisted. “And there will be no lease to any private bidder or foreign owner.”

He also offered up a suggestion that his plan will set new limits on state borrowing. “To use an analogy of my youth, I don’t want to clean the manure out of the barn, only to have someone else fill it back in,” Corzine said.

And while noting recent efforts by his administration regarding property tax relief, adjustments in the school tax levy, reductions in the size of state government including some union give-backs regarding retirement benefits, “there is one big piece of unfinished business with respect to property tax relief and reform,” he said. “And that’s developing a fair and constitutionally appropriate school funding formula. It is a problem unaddressed for more than a decade.

“Today we have a court-driven, ad hoc system for allocating state aid for education,” he concluded. “It has no rational basis of explanation. Within a few weeks, the Department of Education will present a school funding formula to the legislature for their consideration.”

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