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Want a piece of New Jersey's debt?

November 8, 2008 4:24:45 PM PST
If there's one thing New Jersey has plenty of, it's debt.Now the Corzine administration wants to spread it around.

The state has launched a Web site and an advertising campaign aimed at getting people to invest in some of New Jersey's nearly $32 billion in debt. The site is www.buynjbonds.gov.

The state is selling $750 million worth of bonds next week for transportation improvements.

New Jersey's debt rose by $2.1 billion last year.

"It's our first real foray into this," state Treasurer David Rousseau said Friday at a meeting of the state's Commission on Capital Budgeting and Planning.

Corzine had hoped to trim the cost of New Jersey's borrowing by using $650 million in surplus funds to pay off some outstanding debt. The plan was to reduce interest expenses by $130 million a year for each of the next five years But the worsening economy has made that plan look iffy.

"I can guarantee you as we sit here now the entire $650 million will not be used for debt reduction," Rousseau said.

The worldwide financial crisis has increased borrowing costs, and New Jersey is no exception. Demand for bonds has fallen among usually reliable customers including mutual funds, insurance companies and institutional investors.

So New Jersey is pitching its bonds directly to the public.

"Buying new Jersey bonds provides the public with a great opportunity to invest in our state's infrastructure, quality of life, and our future," Rousseau said.

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