“ATLANTIC CITY — What happens in Atlantic City should stay in Atlantic City. And that includes casino profits. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s policies should be changed to provide more money to improve Atlantic City and the rest of Atlantic County, rather than contributing millions of dollars to projects throughout the state, State Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough, R-Atlantic, said Tuesday.” (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)
State Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough has tried this kind of stand-up comedy before: last month he told a reporter from PoliticsNJ a racist joke. Seems like he has not learned much since then.
His idea that money made in Atlantic City should stay in Atlantic City may sound good to his constituents, but it is most certainly not a policy road the state should go down. New Jersey is an entire state ---from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the banks of the Delaware River. From Cape May Ferry to the Palisades north of the GW Bridge. We share revenue from taxes from all industries and the state distributes the funds on an as needed basis. Such is the strength and challenges of a democracy: there are many priorities and municipalities around the state that need funding. This is but one of many issues to be negotiated by the legislature come budget time.
Should state funds collected in taxes from the pharmaceutical companies go only to improve those communities in which the companies are headquartered? No, that tax be distributed around the state where needed. Should tolls collected from bridges, roadways and tunnels go only to support the infra-structure of those communities in which those facilities exist? No, the funds are used to repair and maintain roads and bridges all around the state. The same with the funds from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
When Atlantic City needed a tunnel to connect the Atlantic City Expressway to the new casinos in the “other Atlantic City”, did they pay for it themselves? No, they did not. The cost was largely paid out of money in the state transportation trust fund ---bonds authorized by the voters of New Jersey, and backed by the credit of the state. Our tax money went to help build that tunnel, the same way that roads in Flemington are funded.
If Atlantic City is to expand by adding more casinos, an expansion of the airport may be necessary. Will the expansion be paid for by Atlantic City itself? No --- the AC powers that be will seek assistance from the state, of course. And that is appropriate policy.
There is no doubt that AC needs to better its infrastructure in order to compete with the growing gambling competition from Connecticut and Delaware. The entire state shares in the success or failure of AC, and investment dollars from the state are certainly justified. However, a change of traditional state funding policies is not the road to go down.
It’s not warranted in this case, and too much of a gamble.