Money for NJ Transit? Perhaps start with $54B budget (instead of business community)

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: The state needs money — so, let’s go tax businesses.

And, if we need extra emphasis to make the case, mention that they are billion-dollar businesses. Perhaps call them “ultrawealthy.”

Still not enough? Call them foreign businesses — no matter how many employees they have in the state or how long they’ve been there.

It’s an easy play. One we heard from a few progressive groups when New Jersey Transit announced Thursday that it is planning to raise fares to make up for the expected $119 million shortfall — a shortfall that everyone has known is coming for some time.

We also heard from politicians — on both sides of the aisle — that the state shouldn’t put the additional cost on riders.

Are there any other options?

How about this: If NJ Transit is so important that Gov. Phil Murphy has pledged to fix it unless it kills him, perhaps he and the legislators can look at the budget — one that has grown approximately $20 billion since he took office — and see if they can find $119 million of spending that may be better served going to NJ Transit.

Is it possible that any pork can be found in what is now a $54 billion budget — a more than 50% increase since Murphy took office?

Are there 119 line-items we can cut $1 million from?

Are there 238 line-items we can cut $500,000 from?

Or, consider this.

The guess is that the administration is planning to increase the budget for fiscal year 2025 (not judging; every governor in every state will do it).

And, we’ll admit, there are plenty of worthy causes looking for funding.

But, if NJ Transit is so vital, shouldn’t any conversation about raising the budget start there?