Commissioner Kris Kolluri's opening statement before the Senate
you Chairman Adler and members of the Judiciary Committee.
am honored to appear before you as Governor Corzine's choice to
head the Department of Transportation.
thank the Governor for giving me this remarkable opportunity.
came to the United States 20 years ago with my parents. They sacrificed
everything to provide a better life for my brother and I.
instilled in me the values of hard work, integrity and commitment
values have and will continue to guide me through my life.
a professional, I have spent 14 of the last 15 years in public
began my career working for Congressman Rob Andrews. He
taught me the importance of public trust and accountability.
I have been blessed with one mentor over the last 15 years, it
is Rob Andrews.
am truly fortunate to have his guidance and friendship.
addition to spending over a decade working on Capitol Hill for
Congressmen Andrews, Holt and Gephardt, I have had the honor of
working at the New Jersey Department of Transportation as an Assistant
Commissioner and then Chief of Staff.
served previous Commissioners, Jamie Fox and Jack Lettiere.
is rare to be able to call a person boss, mentor and friend. Jamie
and Jack are all those to me.
my tenure at the Department I witnessed first-hand how a transportation
project directly impacts the economy and quality of life of residents.
am fully aware that the job of Commissioner brings with it awesome
most important mandate of this office is to ensure that our 15,289
lane miles of roadways and 2,346 bridges are safe.
is also to ensure that more than 800,000 daily riders on buses,
trains, and light rail can expect safe, reliable service.
is what the people of this State expect and deserve.
also recognize that the capital program is crucial to ensuring
economic growth and prosperity.
Jersey's multi-billion dollar network of roads, rails, waterways
and airports moves over 375 million tons of freight annually,
generating billions of dollars for the State's economy.
am prepared to work tirelessly to fulfill my obligations and the
trust that the Governor and hopefully the Legislature places in
my efforts along with the employees of New Jersey Department of
Transportation and NJ TRANSIT are not enough.
Transportation Trust Fund, which faces insolvency, must be replenished
me take a moment to address this crucial issue.
1984, the TTF has been the cornerstone of economic growth in this
has ensured the safe, efficient and reliable movement of people
and goods, and it supports over 100,000 jobs annually.
June 2006, the TTF will be completely insolvent.
consequence of this insolvency is that the New Jersey Department
of Transportation and NJ TRANSIT will shut down core capital functions.
would be unable to perform the most basic safety and emergency
repairs on our roads, bridges and railroads.
would be forced to eliminate $150 million in grants to local municipalities,
which provide vital property tax relief.
would jeopardize New Jersey's share of federal transportation
dollars as federal matching funds will not be met.
consequences are not acceptable to Governor Corzine and they are
not acceptable to me.
Friday each of you received a copy of the Governor's Plan to Reform,
Replenish and Grow the Trust Fund.
plan funds a five-year, $1.6 billion annual capital program.
does this mean?
it will demonstrate to the federal government that New Jersey
will meet its matching requirements by putting forward a plan
backed by the full faith and credit of the State of New Jersey.
at $1.6 billion a year, the Governor's plan represents the largest
TTF capital program in the State's history.
three most significant elements of the financial plan are:
Aid to counties and municipalities will increase by $25 million
for a total of $175 million.
you know, the Local Aid program provides important property tax
relief by funding local transportation improvements such as intersection
improvements and safety enhancements.
as the highway system has been in a state of a decline, so have
the local roads. This increase will go a long way toward
capital plan will increase by $229 million for a total of $750
funds will be used to advance repair, rehabilitation and preservation
of roads and bridges immediately.
TRANSIT's capital plan will increase by $145 million for a total
of $675 million. Additional funds will help maintain the
system in a state of good repair, ensure reliability and upgrade
230 Arrow III rail cars on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey
Coast Line and the Morris and Essex Lines;
148 Comet III and IV coaches, and;
42 remaining diesel locomotives.
will also replace every one of our 1,200 transit-style buses.
Corzine's plan doesn't only replenish and grow the TTF.
also reforms it.
the plan refinances some debt to fund the capital program.
for the first time in history, we will dedicate all 10.5 cents
of the motor fuels tax to the TTF.
we will begin the process of recapturing and redirecting the toll
road contribution to the TTF, which hasn't been done since 2000.
the plan, we will freeze capitalized maintenance transfers from
the TTF at current levels or less.
will make sure that all project line items in the capitalized
maintenance program have a five-year useful life, as required
capital program will also maintain a “pay as you go” to prevent
a program solely reliant on debt-financing.
the next five years, “pay as you go” will total $594 million.
the Governor has also called for the creation of an independent
Financial Policy Review Board to restore confidence in the governance
of trust fund investments.
plan to reform, replenish and grow the TTF ensures that vital
capital projects continue in the state while a consensus develops
on a long-term solution.
join the Governor in asking the Legislature to adopt this plan.
his inaugural speech, Governor Corzine laid out a bold vision
to improve the lives of New Jerseyans by making government more
responsive and more efficient.
started my career as a case-worker for Congressman Andrews. I
know the importance of responding to constituent concerns in a
timely and thorough manner.
it is answering mail at the Department or ensuring that residents
riding on trains or buses have proper and timely information,
we will work hard to make sure it happens.
am also committed to operational and investment efficiencies.
my first week, I proposed a significant reduction in the Department's
operation budget starting with political appointees.
cuts will be permanent.
we're identifying more business efficiencies to reduce NJ TRANSIT's
operating expenses, as well as opportunities to increase commercial
like to spend a moment on investment efficiencies.
we develop this year's capital program, I have directed my senior
staff to incorporate smart growth principles into our investment
the last decade, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent
on highway expansion projects that contributed to the proliferation
of sprawl development and added traffic congestion.
troubling was that the Department found itself spending millions
more to correct those mistakes. That practice must stop.
will incorporate principles of land use planning into our projects
so that mistakes of the past are not repeated.
will continue the long-standing commitment to Fix-It-First and
will explore context-sensitive and smart growth alternatives to
addition, we will get back to our core mission of building safe
and efficient roads and bridges - not the equivalent of Taj Mahals.
will work hard to make sure that value engineering is the common
denominator of all projects in the capital program.
me assure this Committee that the operational and investment efficiencies
I intend to put in place will not marginalize safety.
death on our highways or bridges is too many.
the safety of all who use our highways will be my highest priority
will take the Department's Safety First initiative in a new direction
the total miles of crossover median barriers;
more in safe routes to school for our children;
improvements to fixed and movable bridges;
with law enforcement.
public has a basic expectation that roads will be kept safe and
smooth, infrastructure will be maintained, and their commute to
work will be as painless as possible.
challenge of meeting this expectation becomes more difficult as
limited funding competes for an ever-growing list of priorities.
can begin meeting this challenge if we are committed to a paradigm
of appropriate levels of investment, streamlined processes and
Governor's plan to reform, replenish and grow the TTF does that.
me conclude by addressing the issue of ethics in government.
Corzine has made restoring the public's confidence in government
a priority. I share this commitment.
example, I have gone above and beyond any statutory requirement
and have recused myself from any matters in which my former employer
is representing a client at the Department.
Parker McCay has a pending issue in front of the Department, I
will not meet, discuss or make decisions on that matter.
have filed the appropriate notice at the Commission on Ethical
Standards and have notified all senior staff at the Department.
Chairman, under my leadership, the Department will commit itself
to making real progress for the people of this State.
will not shy away from tough decisions if they are the right decisions.
Nor will we be bashful about soliciting outside help.
source of the idea is less important than the quality of the outcome,
and I look forward to working with local governments, with the
legislature and with every stakeholder to ensure the best possible
results for the people of this State.
Department will reduce red tape; projects will be expedited and
money spent on the street will be maximized.
count my prior experience at the Department as an asset that allows
me to minimize the learning curve that a new Commissioner inevitably
have a responsibility to the taxpayers to put forward initiatives
that are ambitious yet realistic to ensure a transportation system
that is safe and efficient both today and in the future.
take my responsibility to implement the Governor's vision to instill
confidence in government and increase efficiency very seriously.
I commit to meeting this challenge while enhancing quality
of life and improving safety.
you again for the opportunity to appear before this committee.
am happy to take any questions you may have.