Today in stories-to-get-your-blood-boiling: according to a new audit, the NJ Turnpike has wasted more than $43 million on unnecessary bonuses and perks for employees, even as it has raised toll prices for commuters. Wouldn't that money be better used going toward getting the Hudson Tunnel project back up, or wooing Carmelo Anthony, or making the Jersey Shore go away forever?
That includes more than $30 million in unjustified bonuses to employees and management in 2008 and 2009; commuters paid for an employee bowling league ($12,000), free E-Z Passes ($430,000), and employee bonuses for working on birthdays and holidays. One employee with a base salary of $73,469 earned $321,985 in a year when all bonuses were included. For comparison, that engorged amount is more than twice as much as the already unnecessarily large amount the head of the OTB makes!
In 2008, the Turnpike toll increased by more than 50 percent, and it is expected to be raised again in 2012 to help deal with NJ's $11 billion budget gap. "While tolls are going up, the Turnpike Authority is overpaying its employees, overpaying its management, overpaying for its health plan and overpaying for legal services," said Comptroller Matt Boxer. If Emperor Paladino were in charge over there, he'd whip this sinkhole of money into shape in no time.