New Jersey’s Constitutional Convention – If Duty Calls
Lawmakers and lobbyists debated over changing New Jersey's property-tax system, as an Assembly committee voted to support a constitutional convention different in some key ways from recommendations made by a state task force.Nothing like kicking the State’s problems further down the road. On the other hand, if we can be members of an interest group that will influence results – we just might come to appreciate the delay.
One change would delay the election of convention delegates until April 2006, rather than this November, when the convention question would be on the ballot. Critics said an April vote assures a low turnout and makes it easier for interest groups to influence the results.
The delay means the convention, which would be at Rutgers' New Brunswick campus, would start in May, not December, and wrap up in August 2006. Its recommendations would still be on the November 2006 ballot.
New Jersey has the highest property-tax rates in the nation, 50 percent higher than the national average, according to Assembly Majority Leader Joseph J. Roberts, D-Camden, a sponsor of the convention plan.Roberts apparently believes there is no connection between government spending and taxes or he thinks we are stupid enough to go along with this reasoning.
"The convention would not be looking at spending," said Roberts.
Not dealing with spending concerned Michael Carroll (R-Morris). He asked the bill's supporters how they could come up with a way to stem rising property-tax bills without addressing state expenditures.Those few quotes pretty much sum up the difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties. However, it is not safe to vote the party line; members of both parties have been guilty of profligate spending.
Carroll also asked why a convention, and not the Legislature, had to decide on reforms. "Isn't that what we are paid to do?" Carroll said.
So here are a few tips to help voters choose an Assembly candidate come November: Vote for the candidate that agrees with Mike Carroll’s opinion –members of the Assembly are responsible for fixing the State’s spending and tax problems.
Don’t vote for any candidate that shares Robert’s view - which apparently amounts to admitting he is not up to the job and prefers to have a convention that will recommend raising taxes through amendments to the State’s Constitution.
Should the legislature fail to act on our behalf, then let’s have a Constitutional Convention and as Mr. Roberts recommends, prevent delegates from recommending any changes to New Jersey’s Constitution related to spending. Instead delegates can ask voters to amend the Constitution by abolishing the property tax and replacing it with a fee for government services used model. That ought to please everyone.
The Democrats will be pleased that spending wasn’t addressed, homeowners will no longer be taxed out of their houses and people will be free to consume and pay for as much and as many government services as they choose.
Any calls for us to serve as delegates to the convention?