Wednesday, July 11, 2007 BY DUNSTAN McNICHOL, Star-Ledger Staff
State officials yesterday endorsed a plan to use motor vehicle fines paid by drivers over the next three decades to raise $150 million to build housing for those with special needs.
The housing money will come through a $150 million bond issue scheduled to be repaid with the driving fees over the next 31 years. Members of the state Economic Development Authority approved the loan with little comment yesterday, even as Gov. Jon Corzine is considering ways to extract billions from the New Jersey Turnpike to trim the state’s monumental debt load.
The new loan is the final installment of a $200 million plan lawmakers approved in 2005 to borrow against future motor vehicle fine revenues to develop apartments, condominiums and houses for individuals with special needs.
To date, the program has supported construction of about 700 units of housing. A total of about 2,000 will be built with the full $200 million, Eileen Hawes, chief financial officer for the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency said yesterday.
The new bond issue is the first of several on tap for the state, which had slowed borrowing since Corzine took office last year.
Lawmakers last month passed proposals to seek voter approval in November for $650 million in borrowing for stem cell research and open space preservation.
In addition, the state’s school construction program is scheduled to borrow $500 million in September, and the state’s highway construction and maintenance fund, the Transportation Trust Fund, is scheduled to issue $1.2 billion in bonds during the current state budget year to support its projects.
The state also plans to issue $425 million in bonds to refinance portions of an earlier set of motor vehicle revenue bonds. Those bonds were issued to help balance the state budget three years ago.