New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced plans to take the Obama administration to court to fight repaying the feds $271 million it was given to complete the ARC tunnel project, which Christie cancelled because it was too expensive. Apparently Christie didn't understand Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood when he said, "The law is clear on this matter. After the initial contract was entered into and later expanded at Governor Christie’s request, the state of New Jersey broke the terms." Christie said yesterday, "I ain't paying them. We're going to go to court. We're going before an impartial judge and let the judge decide." Who else read that in a Yosemite Sam voice?
Christie and the feds have been going back and forth on the issue since last November, and Christie ignored a previous refund deadline of Christmas Eve. He has admitted he's lost track of how many deadlines he's missed, and said yesterday that if the feds want the money, "they're going to have to come get it."
LaHood hasn't exactly been forceful in getting Christie to return the funds. Though he said the DOT is not above “withholding future state funding from a wide variety of sources," he added, "I am not pursuing these collection methods at this time in the hope that we and the state of New Jersey can develop a workable payment schedule." However, New Jersey paid a law firm $800,000 to make the case to the DOT, and they argued unsuccessfully that Christie didn't have an idea of the potential costs when he agreed to the plan. For their sake, we hope they made Christie pay up front.