"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Friday, March 31, 2006

Bilking New Jersey’s Taxpayers

Last year, the state’s budget contained $370 million for what are called "Christmas tree" grants, money for projects that strictly benefit a legislator’s home district. In other words, $370 million in additional property tax relief for favored municipalities.

State taxpayers foot the cost of “Christmas tree” projects that otherwise would have been paid though local property taxes or never undertaken if someone else wasn’t picking up the tab.

The Star-Ledger reported last year that millions of dollars in grants, including some for homeland security, were awarded overwhelmingly to towns and programs in districts represented by Democrats, who obviously control the Legislature and Governor's Office.

One Star-ledger analysis showed nearly 90 percent of certain state grants during the previous three years went to districts controlled by Democrats - “even after legislators claimed they had removed politics from the process.” It would be interesting to see a complete analysis of the budget to determine were all funds controlled by the state (state and federal funds) are spent. A dollars to zip code study should help to clarify the inequities in the state’s budget, but that’s not going to happen.

However, someone is trying to make a difference. Two weeks ago a Cranford lawyer, David Robinson, threatened to sue the Governor in a effort to halt the "Christmas tree" grants until a more open process is set up for distributing them. Yesterday, Robinson field a lawsuit claiming the grants are "little more than legislative slush funds to which only a powerful few have access. These funds are subject to no public scrutiny or oversight."

“While claiming to seek budget cuts and calling for higher taxes because the state is broke, Governor Corzine appears to have sided with the politicians who treat the state's coffers as a piggy bank for the politically connected pursuing parochial pet projects," Robinson said.
In an apparent reaction to the lawsuit, a spokesman for Corzine said that the Governor earlier this week directed a freeze be placed on the remaining funds set aside for the grants and a review of the program be conducted. In light of the state’s fiscal crisis one would think all non-essential spending would be halted, who needs another study to determine the obvious.

Meanwhile, Senator Wayne Bryant (D-Lawnside) chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, refused to comment on the controversy. A Gloucester County Times article about the Robinson suit adds this tidbit of information about Bryant. “In all, he, his wife, two brothers, son and his sister-in-law collectively hold 10 public sector jobs earning a total of $700,000” plus benefits.

As we pointed out the other day, Governor Corzine’s 2007 budget calls for a 51.78% increase for “other grants-in-aid”, amounting to a $411.87 million increase over fiscal year 2006. It’s business as usual in Trenton and the only “hard choice” Governor Corzine has made is how best to disguise the bilking of taxpayers.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

U.S. Has Done More To Benefit Humanity Than Any Nation

We believe the United State has done more to benefit humanity than any other nation existing in the world today.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How To Cut New Jersey's Budget By $858.52 Million

The following proposals would reduce Governor Corzine’s $30.9 billion budget for fiscal year 2007 by $858.52 million. It should be noted that our recommendations preserve the Governor’s proposals for:

$1.1 billion increase to the state worker pension fund
$529.80 million in additional spending for the property tax rebate
$1.6 billion ‘saved’ then redirected to other spending initiatives
$111.68 million in other additional spending

Our proposals cut not one dime from current state services or programs and not one head was cut from the state’s 152,700 person workforce to achieve our proposed budget reductions.

Government worker salaries and benefits, a major factor in the state’s fiscal crisis, are not addressed by our recommendations nor have we wandered into the Abbott school funding issue. All of these issues must be addressed if New Jersey is to get serious about reducing state spending and providing significant property tax relief.

Instead we chose to concentrate on cutting low hanging fruit and on those areas most likely to achieve consensus. Elimination of the state’s $152 million BEIP, a business rebate program, would have pushed our recommended reductions to over $1 billion dollars, but we have elected not to include it with this set of recommendations to avoid the criticism we had to cut funding for existing state programs or services to achieve savings.

$411.87 million – Cut the $411.87 million increase in spending from the Grants-in-Aid line item Other. The state currently spends $795.483 million on Other Grants-in-Aid and we believe the request for a 51.78% increase is unreasonable. Even with our proposed cut, the total Grants-in-Aid category would still cost taxpayers over $8.15 billion.

$149.2 million – Reject the tax increase of 35 cents per cigarette pack – The Governor’s budget indicates revenue from the cigarette tax would decline by $149.2 million, from $640 million to $490.8 million should this tax increase be enacted. State revenue from the cigarette tax was $612.2 million in fiscal year 2004, $626 million in 2005 and the estimate for 2006 (recently revised upwards) is $640 million.

$108.4 million - Eliminate Special and Extraordinary Municipal Aid fund pool - If an unusual financial circumstance, event or catastrophe should befall a municipality, tap into the state’s budgeted $600 million surplus to provide assistance. The surplus is comprised of a $300 million rainy day fund and a $300 million unrestricted fund. Even with our proposed cut, the total Municipal Aid category would still cost taxpayers more than $1.73 billion.

Note: Extraordinary Municipal Aid, (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-118.35 et seq.), provides additional state aid to address a municipality's extraordinary need because of severe fiscal crisis outside of the municipality’s control. This aid may not be “built” into a municipality’s budget and is provided as a “one-time” grant. This change in funding source should help to return the granting of Special and Extraordinary Municipal Aid back to the original intent of the law – a “one-time” grant to alleviate a fiscal crisis not caused by a municipality's planned overspending and under taxing.

$105 million - Reject the Governor’s proposed income tax cut which would reduce state revenue and funds available for property tax relief by $105 million.

$63.25 million – Cut the following spending increases from Direct State Services –$12,885,000 from line item Materials and Supplies; $7,479,000 from line item Services Other Than Personal; and $42,841,000 from line item Other. The state currently spends $1.35 billion on just these three line items in the Direct State Services category.

$20.8 million – Cut the $20.8 million spending increase from the State Aid line item Other. The state currently spends $17.252 million on this catch-all line item and we believe the request for a 220% increase is unreasonable. Even with our proposed cut, the total State-Aid category would still cost taxpayers over $2.18 billion.

Budget Calculations

NJ Budget 2007 Revised
$28.3 billion – NJ Budget 2006 (Includes $1.6 billion ‘saved’ then redirected to other spending initiatives in FY 2007 budget)
+1.1 billion - State worker pension fund payment
+$529.80 million - Property tax rebate
+$111.68 million - Additional spending
Total - $30.04 billion – NJ Budget 2007 Revised

NJ Budget 2007 - Governor Corzine
$30.04 billion – NJ Budget 2007 Revised
+ $858.52 million – Proposed Budget Reductions
Total - $30.9 billion – Corzine’s NJ Budget 2007

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Governor Corzine’s Budget 'Cuts'

Governor Corzine claims he made “hard choices” to cut spending when he developed his new $30.9 billion budget for New Jersey. Here is Corzine’s entire list of budget cuts.

Spending Cuts FY 2007 (Budget in Brief, Page 63)

FY 2006 Legislative Additions - $193.22 million
Senior Public College Support- $89.57 million
County College Operating Aid - $16.26 million
Independent College and Universities Support - $11.98 million
Extraordinary and Special Municipal Aid - $29.41 million
Regional Efficiency Aid Program - $10.99 million
Cancer Hospital Grants - $23.30 million

The $193.22 million Corzine eliminated from “legislative additions” is nothing more than pork barrel spending that never should have been funded last year. This includes such items as $2.5 million for a Newark Museum, $4.75 million for Character Education and $2 million for the West New York Parking Authority. (Budget in Brief, Page 80)

The total of $117.81 million in spending the Governor eliminated from senior colleges, county colleges and independent colleges includes $46 million in “one-time funding” - $28 million in “one-time funding” for UMDNJ and $18 million in “one-time funding” for Rutgers. Eliminating "one-time funding" is not a cut. (Budget in Brief, Page 80)

The Governor suggests the remaining $59.83 million cut to government owned institutions of higher education can be recovered by the colleges. His suggestions include eliminating no show jobs, no bid contracts and other wasteful spending. The colleges can begin a four-year phase-in of charging out-of-state students the full cost of their education and low-priority or duplicative programs could be scaled back or eliminated. The remaining $11.98 million cut in higher education is from private colleges, a questionable use of state funds from the start. (Budget in Brief, Page 28)

The total of $40.4 million in cuts for municipal aid grants, $29.41 million for Extraordinary and Special Municipal Aid and $10.99 million for the Regional Efficiency Aid Program, were supposed to a “one-time funding” source for targeted municipalities. The Governor indicates these programs have achieved their objectives and were never intended to be an on-going funding source for special municipalities. This year's budget retains $108.4 million in Extraordinary and Special Municipal Aid (Budget in Brief, Pages 23 and Page71)

The $23.3 million decrease for Cancer Hospital Grants is achieved by focusing the grants solely on research and reducing the funding of operations and construction. The $41 million remaining in the budget for Cancer Hospital Grants “still represents a 46% increase in comparison to the original State appropriation provided in fiscal 2004.” (Budget in Brief, Page 32)

That’s it, those are the cuts. The Governor does provide a list of savings that he proposes to achieve through administrative efficiencies, maximizing federal revenues and reimbursements, bulk purchasing of pharmaceuticals, establishing cooperative purchasing contracts, eliminating state worker pension abuse, and reducing fraud and noncompliance in the receipt of state funds or the payment of taxes. (Budget in Brief)

We are very happy to see Governor Corzine is eliminating some pork barrel spending and intends to save taxpayers money through management and purchasing efficiencies. Curtailing fraud and abuse of state funds is a real plus, but do any of Corzine’s cuts and savings rise to the level of “hard choices”?

Corzine’s new spending in this budget totals more than $4 billion. What tax dollars Corzine does manage to “save”, he quickly spends it all away on existing or new programs and then adds $2.6 billion more to the budget for a 9.2% increase over last year. Taxpayers are supposed to be excited because he is funding the additional spending through tax increases, rather the gimmicks.

What gets lost in the praise for raising revenues to equal expenditures, is the big unanswered question – why are we spending $4 billion more? We are all for state spending not exceeding state revenue, but the same “no gimmick” funding could have been achieved with less spending and no tax increases. It’s a pity the wizard of Wall Street couldn’t or refused to figure that out.

Contact information

Governor Jon S. Corzine:

Email: Link to email submission form
Address: Office of the Governor - PO Box 001- Trenton, NJ 08625

New Jersey Legislature (Assembly and Senate):
Telephone and Address: Lookup for official's address and phone number
Email: Lookup for officials' email form

Monday, March 27, 2006

Linda Stender Retracts, Politics NJ.Com Deletes

You might remember the other day Politics NJ had an article by Bill Albers that began “Stender takes gloves off in race against Ferguson". What happened to the article? Dump Mike still has a post up quoting the Albers’ piece that included this quote:

Ever since clearing the primary field, the Union County Democrat has continued to campaign on a self-described "progressive" course. At an event earlier this month sponsored by Howard Dean's 'Democracy For America', Stender was quoted as being in support of starting impeachment proceedings against President Bush.

"After the vote in 2007 to elect Nancy Pelosi Speaker, the next vote should be on impeachment," Stender said.
The Albers piece quoting Stender has disappeared from the Politics NJ website and it’s obvious to us why this has happened. Politics NJ published the message Stender wanted to send to the Dump Mike and other extremist groups throughout New Jersey and the country. This “first thing I’ll do if elected message” is great for fund raising and whipping up support from those outside the congressional district. Two, now that the message has been received loud and clear by the target audience, Politics NJ has removed the article at Stender’s request. In other words, Politics NJ is helping Stender have it both ways.

A Linda Stender for Congress March 24 press release on PoliticsNJ.com includes this quote from the Assemblywoman:

"After some reflection, I realize that I was premature in calling for impeachment of the President.”
There are two messages we have received loud and clear. One, Politics New Jersey.com is actively working to help Linda Stender and the Democrat Party in New Jersey. And two, Linda Stender’s purpose in running for Congress is not to represent the people of New Jersey’s 7th congressional district, but to represent Howard Dean's “ impeachment” Democrat Party and their out of touch socialist ideology.

Linda Stender is afraid to stand up for what she believes and for good reason, she can’t be elected on her real agenda.

Update: The Politics NJ article by Bill Albers “Stender takes gloves off in race against Ferguson" is now on the website.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 45

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Alfred Hitchblog Presents . . . the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers #45

Friday, March 24, 2006

Do Governor Corzine's Budget Priorities Match Yours?

These are Governor Corzine’s priorities as listed in the 2007 New Jersey Budget in Brief (page 9) and we presume the list is in order of priority.

Governor Corzine's Priorities
Tax Relief for Lower Income Working Families
Supporting Special Education Needs
Increasing Affordable Housing Opportunities
Investing in Our Youth: Increasing Afterschool Care
Expanding Health Insurance for Children
Fighting Hunger
Reducing Gang-Related Violence
Promoting Women’s Health
Addressing Violence Against Women
Children and Families
Economic Growth
Homeland Security
Do these priorities match those of the people of New Jersey? If you’ll notice property tax relief, reducing spending and debt didn’t make Governor Corzine's list. While many items on the list are laudable, we were under the impression the state was currently spending billions to “solve” these problems.

It was a nice touch to add “children and families” to his list, but we would assume "people" top the list of nearly everyone’s priorities. What were Corzine’s other choices - plants, animals and objects? Economic growth and homeland security are the least of Corzine’s priorities and yet without them nothing on his list is possible.

Corzine’s top priority is to provide income tax relief for low income people and his 2007 budget proposal does just that. We question the wisdom of eliminating 400,000 families from the state’s income tax rolls, especially as the Governor calls for “shared sacrifices”.

Let’s be honest, the vast majority of the state’s $30.9 billion budget and the additional $10 billion the state receives in federal funds will be spent on people with low incomes. Even without Corzine’s proposed tax cut, the Governor acknowledges New Jersey households with incomes over $100,000 pay 80% of the state’s income taxes. Wouldn’t it be wise to have everyone with an income contributing to the pot, at least in some small way?

People with no skin in the game will care little about how much the government spends or how much taxes are increased. The political motives behind eliminating people from the state’s income tax rolls are obvious. One, it makes the voters benefiting from this change even more beholden to the Democrat Party and two, it sets the stage for the property tax reform convention favored by the Governor.

Those advocating for a property tax convention have made it clear they do not want the spending side of the problem addressed at a convention. Thus, the only purpose of the convention will be to shift taxes from local property taxes to one of the state’s big three – income, sales or business taxes.

Corzine’s proposed sales tax increase from 6 to 7 percent will make it the highest in the nation, making it highly unlikely another increase in the sales tax will be the convention’s recommended solution. Increase business taxes? Once again, highly unlikely as Corzine recognizes the importance businesses play in maintaining and creating the jobs that produce the personal income the state taxes. This leaves the income tax as the only alternative to the property tax.

With hundreds of thousands of New Jersey voters off the income tax rolls, you can bet the chances of a state constitutional amendment shifting taxes from property to income is all the more likely to succeed. You can also bet if this happens taxpayers ain’t seen nothing yet when it comes to government spending and tax increases.

In the long run, placing more and more of the tax burden on a smaller and smaller pool of taxpayers is not a healthy financial situation for anyone - rich, poor or in between. The state’s revenue base would be hostage to the inevitable swings in income and the incentive for the so called “rich” to flee the state, along with the jobs they create, will become even greater.

Corzine’s priorities and his budget are a recipe for disaster. The Governor’s budget calls for $4,029,009,000 in additional spending and before the new budget takes effect he tells us New Jersey will have a budget gap of $1.5 billion next year, fiscal year 2008. This insanity has to stop and spending must be cut, not increased. Corzine’s claims he had to make “hard choices” in this year’s budget, what were they?

When faced with the choice to spend more or less money, Corzine chose to spend more. Cost shifting from state to federal funds is not a hard choice and nether is eliminating “one-time” expenditures from last year’s budget. A cut is not eliminating last year’s hospital provider assessment, replacing it with a new and larger hospital tax and then diverting the funds for other purposes. A cut is not increasing state grants by $412 million in a category so important it’s titled “other”.

The Governor has used the excuse of contributing $1.1 billion to the state worker pension fund and his much ballyhooed increase in property taxes rebates for the additional spending. The two initiatives total $1.6298 billion and not $4.029 billion. This leaves $2.4 billion burning a hole in Corzine’s pocket and $35 from his property tax rebate increase in yours. Do Corzine’s priorities match yours?

Now’s the time to let Governor Corzine and the state legislature know about your priorities and your concerns with the proposed budget. Speak up before it’s too late. Don’t be apathetic, call write or email your elected representatives today!

Contact information

Governor Jon S. Corzine:

Email: Link to email submission form
Address: Office of the Governor - PO Box 001- Trenton, NJ 08625

New Jersey Legislature (Assembly and Senate):
Telephone and Address: Lookup for official's address and phone number
Email: Lookup for officials' email form

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Abbott School Districts To Receive 56 Percent of State School Aid

State school aid figures for the 2006-07 school year were announced today by New Jersey Department of Education officials.

Total state aid for schools will be $7,084,693,521, with Abbott School districts slated to receive $3,975,035,052. That’s 56.1 percent of all school aid going to the 31 Abbott districts and 43.9 percept going to the remaining 564 school districts in the state.

New Jersey Budget 2007: Grants-In-Aid

Grants In Aid

Note: Dollars in Thousands
Source: New Jersey 2007 Budget in Brief - Page 89

First note there has been no overall reduction in state grants-in-aid and in fact spending on grants have increased by $397.985 million.

The huge $411.9 million increase in spending on the line item simply referred to as “other” should send up the red flag.

The $55.921 million reduction in aid to Rutgers includes an $18,000 million “one-time 2006 grant” (Page 80). One time grants are supposed to be just that, one time. Actual reduction in aid $37.921 million.

The $48.774 million reduction in aid to the UMDNJ includes “one-time 2006 grant” of $28.000 million (Page 80). Actual Reduction in aid $20.744 million.

The $7.519 million reduction in Medicaid Pharmaceutical Assistance is just one area of the state budget benefiting from the new federal Medicare prescription drug program. Cost shifting to federal funds.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Increase in Cigarette Tax To Result In $149.2 Million Revenue Loss

Can New Jersey afford the 35 cent per pack tax increase on cigarettes? We don’t mean the smokers paying the tax, we’re referring to the negative impact the increase will have on the state’s budget.

If you look at page 103 of the 2007 Budget in Brief you’ll notice the state anticipates a $149.2 million reduction in cigarette tax revenue based on the 35 cent tax increase. This is most curious considering the state has had revenue increases each year from the cigarette tax up until now.

This is a paradox, isn’t it? The tax is going up, but the tax revenue is expected to go down. An increase in taxes resulting in a decrease in tax revenue is contrary to the progressive laws of economics. Just ask Thurman Hart, he’ll explain it to you.

However, for those grounded in reality and familiar with revenue implications of tax increases, it's obvious the increase in New Jersey’s cigarette tax is an attempt at social engineering and has nothing to do with “closing the budget gap”. Actually, the cigarette tax increase is one of Governor Corzine’s “hard choices” spending “cuts’.

Aside from the loss in tax revenue, can the state afford the extra costs associated with law enforcement to combat the additional smuggling rings and the unsavory characters this “revenue raiser” reducer will bring to the state?

Yes, we know if Governor Corzine was cornered with the truth he would say he is raising the tax for the smokers' own good. And he’d probably say down the road it will save on health care bills, but he didn’t say any of that. He “framed” the cigarette tax increase as a “revenue raiser” to mislead the public, just as he has with almost the entire 2007 budget.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Jersey Budget Fiscal Year 2007

Governor Jon Corzine submitted a $30.9 budget for fiscal year 2007, a 9.2 percent increase in spending over last year. The proposed budget increases spending by $2.6 billion and imposes $2 billion in new or increased taxes.

Note: The state expects to collect a minimum of $600 million more over last year on existing taxes and fees.

Update: Budget address may be read here and the Budget in Brief here.
Update: II: Additional budget details have been added – specific programs and dollars

Cuts to State Government
  • Reduce state aid to colleges and universities - $117 million
  • Layoff 300 state workers not protected by civil service and cut an additional 700 jobs through attrition - $54 million [Not really a cut - spending for state worker salaries will increase by $200. Net increase in spending - $146 million]
  • Reduce municipal aid - $40 million
Spending Increases

  • State worker pension fund payments - $1.1 billion
  • Property tax rebates - $529.8 million (Average rebate will be $358)
  • Debt payments - $483 million
  • Medicaid - $358 million
  • Increase salaries for unionized state workers - $200 million
  • Abbott school construction - $115 million
  • Child welfare agency - $114 million
  • Environmental Protection Programs - $109 million
  • Capital improvement projects - $80 million
  • New special education program - $19.5 million
  • Expand eligibility for health insurance for children - $5 million
  • State Rental Assistance Program - $15 million
  • Mental Health services - $10 million
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - $7 million
  • After-school programs - $7 million
  • Food Distribution Program - $4 million
  • Gang reduction Programs - $2.3 million
  • Family planning programs- $2 million
  • Halfway Back prisoner transitioning - $1 million
  • Gun Violence Prevention - $750, 000
Tax Cuts

  • Increase the income tax threshold where residents pay no tax from $20,000 to $25,000
  • Provide a cut to families earning less than $30,000. Total cost for both tax cuts - $105 million.

New Taxes

  • Hospitalprovider tax (5.5% tax based on non-Medicare hospital revenue) - $430 million
  • Extended sales tax to some previously untaxed goods and services - $200 million
  • New 2.5 percent tax surcharge on Corporations - $60 million [retroactive to 1/1/06]
  • New tax on the sale of commercial property - $17 million
  • New water tax of 4 cents per 1,000 gallons to be collected by water utilities - $12 million
Increase Existing Taxes

  • Increase sales tax from 6 to 7 percent (Effective July 1, 2006) - $1.3 billion
  • Increase the cigarette tax by 35 cents to a national high of $2.75 per pack - $80 million
  • Increase wholesale taxes on wine (14 percent), beer (42 percent) and liquor (1 percent) - $12 million

Increase Fees and Charges

  • Increase vehicle registration fees on those costing $45,000 or more and vehicles with an EPA rating of lessthan 15 miles per gallon - $17 million
  • Sliding scale fees to use after-school and summer programs in Abbott School districts.(Fees will only be charged to families earning more than $60,000) - $30 million
  • Charge Medicaid recipients a $2 co-payment per prescription drug, up to $10 per month - $13 million
  • Charge Medicaid recipients a surcharge for emergency rooms for nonemergency health problems - $1.1 million

"We're going to re-scrub the budget," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Wayne Bryant (D-Camden). "The last thing we will consider is any revenue raisers."

Monday, March 20, 2006

When a 49 Percent Increase In School Aid Is Called A Freeze

Why is Governor Corzine giving people the totally false impression that school and municipal state aid is not going to increase under the new state budget? And why do the media repeat the totally false notion that school aid has been frozen for the past four years.

As we have written about a zillion times – 100% of state income tax revenue must be returned to municipalities in the form of property tax relief – or as some prefer it call it, school aid.

For fiscal year 2003, state income tax revenue was $6.735 billion and for fiscal year 2006, income tax revenue will top $10 billion, an increase of $3.27 billion. This can mean one of two things - $3.27 billion was stolen this year or school aid has in fact increased a whopping 49 percent since 2003.

School aid has been frozen to most towns, as the majority of property taxpayers know, but not to the Abbott school districts. The Governor should be honest about this issue and the media should start reporting the facts – school aid has not been frozen in the past and will not be frozen in this new budget.

As it stands now, New Jersey’s income tax revenue is up 10.9% over last year. Therefore, Governor Corzine will submit a budget reflecting a minimum of a 10 percent increase in school aid. School aid has not and will not be frozen, it’s just the majority of taxpayers have been frozen out.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 44

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The Center of New Jersey Life presents the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers #44

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Gentleman Sets the Record Straight

Read Ken Adam’s post A Conservative Goes to the Library. It is an excellent rebuttal to Thurman Hart’s post – You Can Lead a Conservative to the Library but you can't make them think. Or even stop being intentionally misleading.

Thurman Hart (Xpatriated Texan) tried desperately to disprove a conclusion Ken reached in his original post, State Business Tax Climate Index:

It doesn't get much simpler than this. Make your tax system fair, and your state will prosper. Complicate your tax system, failing to treat taxpayers equally and you will lag behind
Why is the idea of a fair tax system that treats all taxpayers equally so repugnant to Thurman Hart that he’s willing to call Ken’s honesty and intelligence into question?

And why does Thurman Hart ignore data, make erroneous calculations and reach conclusions not supported by any documented facts in his attempt to disprove Ken’s conclusion that a more favorable tax climate has a beneficial effect on a state’s economic competitiveness and growth?

We have our hunches, but we’d rather hear Thurman Hart’s explanation. As food for thought and for what it’s worth, Governor Corzine agrees with Ken Adams:

“I believe the business climate needs to change in the State,” Corzine said. “I do not consider business the problem, I consider it the solution.”
Note: We were going to give this post a different title, but it just seemed a bit too long - You can lead a conservative to the library and more than likely he’ll thank for your help. Most conservatives can’t be made to think false and illogical things are true, even when ridiculed and maligned. An officer and gentlemen, such as Ken Adams, would never intentionally mislead anyone.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Corzine Scraps Sales Tax Increase in Favor of "Soak The Rich" Plan

Governor Jon Corzine’s plans for closing New Jersey’s budget gap are becoming clearer as we move closer to the March 21 state budget address.

In addition to the “revenue-raisers” and “cuts” Corzine had previously leaked to the press, we correctly predicted reductions in municipal aid to suburban towns, cuts in aid to surburban schools, reduction in Corzine’s proposed contribution to the state worker’s pension fund and the slashing of his campaign promised property tax rebates.

Now here comes the surprise from an article in today’s Star-Ledger. The increase in the sales tax from 6 to 7 percent appears to be off the table. It looks as though a few other people think increasing taxes matter:

Judging by interviews with some Democratic Assembly members yesterday, none of whom wished to be identified, there seems to be little appetite for a sales tax increase in the lower house.

One said flatly he would not vote for it. Another said if Corzine does recommend it, he would urge its elimination before the budget's passage in June. A third said he worried it would give Republican Tom Kean Jr. a major issue in his U.S. Senate campaign against Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
Corzine is now left with his ideas for dramatically increasing the tax on cigarettes, expanding the sales tax to services previously untaxed and a surtax on federal income taxes.

Instead of a sales tax, some legislators expressed a preference for slapping a temporary surtax on federal income taxes, an option Corzine has said is a possibility. It would mainly affect those earning $100,000 or more.
The justification for the surtax on federal income taxes is right out of the Democrat Party play book, “supporters argue it would effectively take just part of those taxpayers' federal tax cuts.” No mention of the millions taken off the federal tax rolls as a result of the “Bush tax cuts.”

Corzine continues to spin his budget plans:

"We're still looking at all the various options that are on the table. I have talked about shared sacrifice in this.”
The only people doing the sacrificing are a select group of taxpayers as a review of Corzine’s budget plans still left on the table makes clear. Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union) who also is chairman of the Democratic State Committee summed up the Democrats’ position well, “People are ready for a proposal that shows cuts and revenues that are fair to most people." The concept of being fair to everyone does not compute with the likes of Corzine and Cyran.

In other words, it’s the tyranny of the tax receivers over the taxpayers. To Corzine and Cryan that’s considered fair. We elected a socialist as Governor, did anyone expect Corzine to govern otherwise? Cue cheers from thel eft.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Have you noticed the new Democrat euphemism for tax increases - "revenue-raisers"?

Gov. Jon S. Corzine left open the possibility of raising taxes during a citizens' budget forum Tuesday night, but he did not specify the type or size of any revenue raisers he is considering.

No increase in the gasoline tax or other revenue raisers, although officials hinted at a fare increase for NJ Transit when the plan was announced.

Anthony Coley, Corzine's spokesman, declined to comment on the prospect of a cigarette tax hike but said, "Our spending cuts will be more significant than any revenue-raisers."

Sen. Wayne Bryant (D-Camden), chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, said the governor's recommendations next week will be just recommendations. "It doesn't mean those are the revenue-raisers we will ultimately do," he said.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Betsy's Page

If you wondered, as we did, what happened to Betsy's Page today when you found the ominous – “404: The requested URL was not found on this server”. Betsy Newark answered our email with this explanation:

You can tell people that Blogger has eaten my blog and I'm just waiting for them to adjust their server problems.
We hope Blogger has Betsy's Page up and running ASAP. Too bad Glenn Reynolds is on light blogging tonight, he has a way of getting Blogger’s attention and quick action.

Corzine’s Budget Plans: Plus Why Taxes Matter

Governor Jon Corzine is planning more than $2 billion in spending cuts and nearly $2 billion in tax increases according to a report in the Star-Ledger.

The cuts will likely include:

  • - $100 million from higher education
  • - $200 million through layoffs and other personnel actions involving 15,000 non-unionized state workers
  • - A freeze on state aid for public schools with the exception of the Abbott School Districts where increases in state aid will be less than the $511 million previously projected

We consider spending more than the previous year on any line item to be an increase, but the reduced increase in school aid helps lower Corzine’s projected $4.5 billion budget gap. However, even if the entire $511 million increase in school aid was eliminated, the total cuts listed only come to $811 million. Therefore, we’re still missing the specifics on most of Corzine’s cuts. Our guess is municipal aid to suburban towns will be cut, the proposed contribution to the state worker’s pension fund will be greatly reduced and property tax rebates will be eliminated for some previously eligible.

Tax increases will likely include:

  • - Sales tax increased from 6 percent to 7 percent
  • - Sales tax will be extended to some presently untaxed services
  • - A surtax" or surcharge will be levied on income tax

The article states the two changes in the sales tax will net about $1.4 billion, which would leave about $600 million to be raised from an income tax surcharge. New Jersey’s Constitution mandates revenue from the state’s income tax may only used for property tax relief, also known as school aid to municipalities. Assuming Corzine considers an income tax surcharge to be governed by the law’s limitation on use, this new revenue would likely be used for increases to Abbott School aid and property tax rebates.

The article states Corzine has abandoned a gross receipts tax on services provided by professionals like lawyers, doctors, and engineers.

Such a move would have drawn fierce opposition from the 15,000-member New Jersey State Bar Association. "If in fact that was in the budget, or that became part of the legislation, we absolutely would have gone to war," association president Stuart Hoberman said.
Gee, if taxes don’t matter why would New Jersey’s State Bar Association go to war over a tax the lawyers wouldn’t pay? Perhaps because the increased tax on their customers would reduce business.

Here’s how Rutgers University economist James Hughes sizes up the tax increase options:

James Hughes said a new gross receipts tax on businesses might cause the most pain to the economy, by fostering the impression that "business is being singled out again to solve state budget problems."

An income tax surtax, Hughes said, might be a bad move just two years after the state raised the income tax on the 35,000 taxpayers earning more than $500,000.

Hughes said the sales tax option "may turn out to be the most palatable one." Democratic sources said recent polling has borne that out.
At least one professor believes taxes matter. On the other hand there’s Professor Thurman Hart trying to prove taxes have no impact on economic growth. He takes on a Ken Adams post and as usual proves he's clueless on economic matters. From an XPat post on Blue Jersey:
Of course, you have to deal with Nevada's outlier. Something is obviously going on there that isn't happening anywhere else. If you separate Nevada from the rest, the average drops to 4.5 - barely two-tenths of a point above average.
Thurman deals with Nevada's 9.3 percent growth rate by excluding it from his analysis. Why? Maybe becasue Nevada has no corporate income tax, has the 5th best business tax climate according to the Tax Foundation and is right next-door to high tax California. Thurman must have missed the news:

Fast-growing Nevada and Arizona had the highest rates of net migration from other states between 1995 and 2000 and many of their new residents came from California, according to two Census 2000 reports.
Or this recent explanation for the California exodus:
What's gone wrong? A big part of the story is a tax and regulatory culture that treats the most productive businesses and workers as if they were ATM machines. The cost to businesses of complying with California's rules, regulations and paperwork is more than twice as high as in other Western states.

But the worst growth killer may well be California's tax system. The business tax rate of 8.8% is the highest in the West, and its steeply "progressive" personal income tax has an effective top marginal rate of 10.3%, or second highest in the nation. CalTax, the state's taxpayer advocacy group, reports that the richest 10% of earners pay almost 75% of the entire income-tax revenue in the state, and most of these are small business owners, i.e., the people who create jobs.

All of this has contributed to the trend of wealthy taxpayers disappearing from the state.
We’re sure Ken Adams will have something to say on the topic also, so be sure to check out his blog SmadaNeK.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Tell Corzine No Tax Increases - Cut Spending

The Courier Post recently conducted a survey on how Gov. Jon Corzine should balance the state budget. The number one choice was “cut government jobs and benefits”, favored by two thirds of the voters. The second highest vote getter was “cut services”.

The choice Governor Corzine seems to be leaning toward, “increase taxes and spending”, is not an option favored by the people of New Jersey, at least not taxpayers reading the Courier Post.

The Newspaper reminds citizens there is something they can do to convince Corzine to get his priorities in sync with theirs – “call, e-mail or write to his office and tell him significant cuts to government jobs and government employee benefits must happen before any tax increase is even discussed.”

We suggest taxpayers follow the Courier Post’s advice. “Now is the time for as many voters as possible to remind Corzine that he works for them.”

Remind him that he has acknowledged New Jersey's government is bloated and he promised to do something about it.

It will be difficult for Corzine to target government workers, but if he and other Democrats are reminded of the cost of targeting taxpayers, perhaps they can be convinced to do the right thing.
“There's almost nothing as influential in politics as a ground swell of ordinary residents demanding action from an elected representative.” Join the ground swell, here’s Governor Corzine’s contact information:

Telephone: 609-292-6000
Email: Link to email submission form
Address: Office of the Governor - PO Box 001- Trenton, NJ 08625

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Lie

From Today’s New York Times reporting on Saddam Hussein’s strategy for fighting the war against the United States:

The Iraqi dictator was so secretive and kept information so compartmentalized that his top military leaders were stunned when he told them three months before the war that he had no weapons of mass destruction, and they were demoralized because they had counted on hidden stocks of poison gas or germ weapons for the nation's defense.
If Saddam Hussein’s top military leaders believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in the run up to the war, why is President Bush denounced as a liar, having started a war based on a lie? As everyone should know, the Presdient gave a list of reasons for taking out Saddam. Iraq’s possession and desire for developing WMD was just one reason, albeit a very good reason Bush gave for removing Saddam from power.

A blogger quotes Democrat Assemblywoman Linda Stender at a DFA 7th District Forum yesterday:

"We desperately need a change in Washington. This administration took us to war based on a lie. It is an outrage that the Bush administration has dishonored our soldiers who with their service are giving of themselves for all of us."
What “lie” was that Linda? Here’s what President Bush said in October of 2002:
In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown.

By taking these steps, and by only taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. Taking these steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself. America hopes the regime will make that choice. Unfortunately, at least so far, we have little reason to expect it. And that's why two administrations -- mine and President Clinton's -- have stated that regime change in Iraq is the only certain means of removing a great danger to our nation.
Stender dishonors our soldiers, our country and our President with her outrageous claims. Linda’s either unfamiliar with the facts or she’s lying. In either case, Stender’s not someone the country needs in Congress.

It’s hardly surprising Stender would rather run for Congress throwing stones at Bush than on her record in Trenton - “if elected I’ll fight to raise you’re taxes” is not a winning platform. Then again, telling the truth doesn’t appear to be one of Linda’s strong points, so don't look for her to be straight with voters on that issue either. Calling the President a liar may rally her base, but positioning yourself as an attractive Cindy Sheehan ain’t gonna fly with the majority of voters in the7th. Congressional district.

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 43

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The JG Bounce With Me Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers #43

Saturday, March 11, 2006

(Mis)Leading The Public To Higher Taxes

Paul Nelson at NJ Fiscal Folly has a good post on Governor Corzine’s budget presentation from this week’s public meetings. Nelson says, “It's not a bad presentation, but as I went through it I realized that it's a very misleading document.” Nelson notes three key problems with the presentation:

1.) It actually sugarcoats the debt problem
2.) It basically takes current programs and expense growth as a given
3.) It forces the conclusion: the only solution is higher taxes

As we previously posted, Bob from eCache attended Governor Corzine’s budget meeting at Rowan University and has written a good synopsis of the information presented in his post is More, More, More.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Corzine Sets The Table For Tax Increases

Governor Corzine is setting the table for tax increases, warning everyone who will listen that the state’s budget gap can’t be closed solely by eliminating government waste. Getting rid of the waste is step one, cutting the unnecessary, the nonessential and the fat is step two.

Why not lay it all out on the table and let the people decide what stays and what goes. Of course this will never happen. Taxpayers would be shocked if they were honestly told how the bulk of their money is being spent. So instead we get Corzine’s holding meetings around the state expanding on his line, “We’re pretty much broke”.
Corzine explained the state's dire financial condition at the third and final town hall meeting and fielded questions from an audience of more than 350 people.
Eight-eight percent of state spending is transferring money from taxpayer to tax eater. The remaining twelve percent is spent operating the state. This isn’t “right-wing” spin, those percentages came from former Governor Codey in last year’s budget address.

The governor [Corzine] said he hoped to close the budget gap through spending cuts but it may not be enough. He said his budget proposal will include "more significant budget cuts than we've ever had."
Corzine’s words sound reasonable until you stop and think about them. When has the state ever made any budget cuts? Last year former Governor Codey claimed his budget actually cut spending from the previous year. If that’s the case why do we find ourselves with a budget shortfall Corzine now pegs at $4.5 billion? Any cut to the state’s budget would be the most “significant budget cut we’ve ever had”, even if it was $1.

To get a handle on the budget Corzine needs to sharply reduce spending on the fat – the programs swallowing 88 percent of our taxes. School and municipal aid are two good examples .

All of the money the state collects in income taxes is redistributed as property tax relief to municipalities in the form of school aid. But if Corzine elects to freeze or make cuts here, will he chose to freeze and cut the fat or the lean?

Take two Union County municipalities in Assemblywoman Linda Stender’s distinct as an example. Which one is most likely to have its state aid frozen or cut – Clark receiving $322 per homeowner in school aid or Elizabeth, receiving $16,433 per homeowner from the state? Unless Corzine sees things differently than his predecessors and can convince Stender otherwise, it will be Clark's aid frozen or cut.

The state doles out municipal aid to towns from sales and other taxes it collects. What will be cut, the fat or the lean? Again, taking two Union County towns in Assemblywoman Linda Stender’s distinct, Scotch Plains receiving $437 per homeowner in municipal aid and Linden getting $2,382, which will be cut? The record tells us it will be Scotch Plains.

The budget as a whole is no different. The lean part of the budget is where 12% of our money is spent for essential services, such as for law enforcement that benefits all. The fat of the budget is where 88% of the money is spent for political advantage, benefiting the special interests. Yet, time and again the lean is targeted for cuts rather than the fat. Why? Because proposing spending cuts to the lean will produce acceptance of tax increases to preserve the essential.

Will Governor Corzine take a different approach? We’ll see when he reveals his budget proposal on March 21, but so far it looks like he’s preparing New Jersey’s citizens for the usual diet of fat and taxes.

Update: Yesterday, Bob from eCache attended Governor Corzine’s budget meeting at Rowan University and he has written a good synopsis of the information presented. The title of Bob’s post is More, More, More, as in spend, spend, spend. It’s not looking good folks. Be sure to read Bob’s post and check out eCache’s new look and platform.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Creating Jobs Or Bankrupting The State?

"Joe Vas Created Over 5,000 New Jobs.,” This, according to Assemblyman (D-Perth Amboy) Joe Vas’s new TV ad in support of his run for Congress. Unfortunately for taxpayers all of the jobs Vas and his friends in Trenton have created are government jobs, $3.6 billion worth of new ones since 2001. $3.6 billion has a familiar ring doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Response to Dump Mike’s Nathan Rudy

This post is in answer to Nathan Rudy’s latest comments on our post from yesterday about the deceitful calls received by voters in Congressman Mike Ferguson’s district. If you read to the end you might be surprised by a few facts Nathan Rudy would probaly prefer you not know.

Here is the link to the transcript of an actual robo call targeting Ferguson. The call was a collection of lies and distortions about Social Security reform. The call refers to “the plan” and then goes on to provide the “cost” and percent of “reduced benefits” under “the plan”. What Social Security plan? The one the Democrats dreamed up as a straw man to bash?

As you note in your comment. Ferguson said “I support giving younger workers the option to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes” Explain how the numbers in the robo message can be calculated based upon the information contained in Ferguson’s statement or from the entire paragraph you posted? They can’t.

But it is interesting that government workers, elected officals and teachers have their pension funds in the very investments the robo call terms a “Wall Street slot machine and a “risky Wall Street gamble.” Demagoguery at it best.

If we had a telephone number for a specific person for people to call in order to ask the AFT to knock it off, we would have provided one. If the deceptive calls about Ferguson continue, we now know Assemblywoman Linda Stender is the best person to call. Who has a better chance of getting the calls stopped - your average voter, calling some group in Washington or Stender, a state official and the beneficiary of the annoying calls?

You said “The Dump Mike post was a call for more honesty in the political process, but it was speaking on a specific issue: push polling.” Nathan, you’re trying to make a distinction where no difference exists.

The “push poll” calls are an attempt to make the listener believe Ferguson holds the position(s) described or has a specific record on one or more issues. The “advocacy calls” we’ve been discussing serve the same purpose - both call formats have the same objective in mind – misinform voters and smear Ferguson in the process.

You haven’t explained why you make a distinction between the two call formats and there is no logical reason for you to claim one is dishonest and a dirty trick and the other is peachy keen. In our opinion the same level of honesty should be required of all political calls, regardless of format. You obviously disagree. We admitted we misunderstood your call for honesty and we stand corrected. How are we “twisting” your words?

Enlighten NJ is an anonymous group blog, but we aren’t “spinning”. Our posts are there for all to see and fact-check. The calls, in either format, offer no such opportunity. How many people do you suppose transcribe these messages to later verify the accuracy of the information? These political calls are produced to create a negative impression of a targeted politician. A person makes a conscious choice to read a blog post. The calls are uninvited and the best the receiver can do is hang up after they have been intruded upon. If you can’t “see the difference“ between blog posts and robo political calls, you have our sympathies.

You wrote: “We could very easily have done the site [Dump Mike] anonymously without declaring it”. Is that so? Aren’t there laws governing the solicitation, receipt and disbursement of political donations? Isn’t disclosure one of the requirements?

Nathan you are a politician and an elected official. You have been cited by the court for failure to submit timely and accurate campaign reports. Type in the name “Nathan Rudy” on the New Jersey Election Law site and here’s what you’ll find:

The Respondent violated and continues to violate, as of the date of this Complaint, N.J.S.A. 19:44A-16 by failing to certify as correct and file with the Commission a 20-day post election report (Form R-1) and a final report (Form R-1) in the 2004 primary election as prescribed by the Campaign Reporting Act and Commission regulations.
Yea, we know you were found guilty and paid your fines. So give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve learned your lesson and have now decided to follow the law, including those governing Dump Mike activities.

We don’t make money from this blog, we don’t solicit campaign donations, and we aren’t in or running for office. Do you bug DBK over on Blanton's and Ashton's to stop blogging anonymously? Trying to make our anonymity an issue is a red herring.

Speaking of anonymity - do you publish your identity on your other political websites? No, you don’t. Yet, you’re trying to make money on one of them selling NJ political campaign stuff, including Mike Ferguson campaign buttons and bumper stickers. The irony was not lost on us.

Our honesty and transparency in the political process comes from writing posts with links to verifiable information. We draw conclusions and state our opinions on issues, but we certainly don’t try to hide or disguise them.

The purpose of your blog is to dump Mike and collect money. It really wouldn’t matter who the Republican Congressman was in the 7th, you’d just change the name of your blog. You’re seeking political power, we’re trying to present information and a point of view for public consideration. Most people can recognize the difference.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Give Linder Stender A Call

In January of 2005 we wrote about phone calls constituents of Congressman Mike Ferguson were receiving about Social Security reform. The prerecorded message was loaded with disinformation and false charges. A reverse lookup of the toll free number, provided as an avenue for voters to express their outrage, showed that it belonged to the American Federation of Teachers.

Since that time, voters in Congressman Ferguson’s district have received calls, averaging one every two weeks, blaming the congressman for the latest “issue” or “problem” Democrats have hoped to pin on Republicans. The calls basically come in two forms - blame the congressman for whatever is in the news and push polling.

Interestingly, the Dump Mike folks wrote a post last month complaining about the push polling calls and the lack of identification of the group behind them.
Some jackass is going around doing fake polls called "push polls" around the country. A push poll is essentially a partisan attack done as a fake poll, and it is considered an extremely dirty political trick.

Now the jackass has come to the 7th district, and is push polling against Mike Ferguson. While it has to be obvious to anyone who knows the name of this site, we are interested in defeating Ferguson in November. We are not interested in doing it by cheating.
Today, an article from Roll Call solves the mystery of “the jackass” group behind the lies and distortion campaign:

The calls are funded by American Family Voices (AFV), a nonprofit group led by Clinton administration veteran Mike Lux and allied with Lux’s firm Progressive Strategies. According to its website, the firm promotes “extensive experience in grassroots organizing and politics.”

Lux founded AFV in 2000 after leaving the lobbying team at People for the American Way, adding a 527 group called MainStreet USA to his arsenal during the 2004 election cycle.

“My whole goal is to work in close connection with the rest of the progressive community and have our organization be a free safety that can move on a dime, plug holes, work on issues that come up all of a sudden and go where other people aren’t going to provide some political muscle,” Lux said..
“The group got going with $800,000 donated by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees." Lux says other labor unions provide backing, but declined to name AFV's other contributors, except to say that they are "your classic progressive donors". Read that to mean billionaire George Soros as one of the “classics”.

Democrat Linda Stender, running for Congress in the 7th Congressional District against Mike Ferguson, is the beneficiary of this “dirty political trick” as the Dump Mike people refer to the robo calls. If you’ve been bothered by these intrusions , why not give New Jersey Assemblywoman Stender a call and let her know how you feel about her backers and their tactics.

Stender Home: (908) 889-6793 - Why not, they call you at home.
Stender Campaign Office: (908) 322-1996
Stender Assembly District Office: (908) 668-1900

Monday, March 06, 2006

Hosts Wanted For Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers

Forty-three weeks ago the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers began and since then volunteers have stepped up to host and not one week has gone by without a carnival post. Which leads us to Sharon’s comments over at the Center of NJ life:

There are lots of weekends coming up without a carnival host. I signed up again, but if you haven't taken a turn yet or it's been a while, now's the time to get on the bandwagon. Send the organizer folks an email with the Sunday you want to host.
If you’d like to see the COTNJB continue please volunteer to host. The schedule’s wide open from April to the end of the year, so choose a convenient date and let us know when you’d like to host, we’ll place you on the schedule. Just send an email to enlightennj@gmail.com with a Sunday date, along with the name and URL for your New Jersey blog.

The Carnival continues to generate buzz in the blogosphere and it’s a credit (we think) to us all:
In case you were concerned that a universal carnival format had emerged, take a gander at the most recent edition of the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers. Other geographies have carnivals Wisconsin, Virginia, North Caroline, India, England, the Balkans, etc, but it's hard to beat the Garden State bloggers for, well, being New Jerseyans.

In other words, this carnival is off the wall.
New Jersey bloggers have a reputation to uphold, so please volunteer to host and keep those post submissions coming to njcarnival@gmail.com. This week’s host is Confessions of a Jersey Goddess.

Corzine Wants Better Stadium Deal For New Jersey

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know how we feel about the Meadowlands stadium deal former Governor Codey negotiated with the two New York football teams – the Giants and the Jets. You can read more about the tentative terms of the deal here. But in a nutshell, the football teams make a killing and New Jersey taxpayers take a beating.

George Zoffinger, the chief executive of the sports authority, was a vociferous critic of what he described as the one-sided nature of the new deal. But he was overruled by Mr. Codey. "It's 183 for the Giants and the Jets to five for the state of New Jersey," said Zoffinger.
We have been advocating for Governor Corzine to step in before it’s too late and renegotiate a deal more favorable to the state. Today we found good news:
“Gov. Jon Corzine does not like the new football stadium deal; he wants more money for the state; more taxes for East Rutherford; and a roof on anything built.”

Now, according to three top state officials, Corzine wants an increase in rent and property tax payments. He also wants to make the teams build a $100 million roof so the stadium could host a Super Bowl and the Final Four college basketball tournament.

At the same time, East Rutherford Mayor James Casella said last week his borough wants at least $8 million a year in property taxes -- six times what the teams originally agreed to.
Look for the Giants and Jets to make threats to sue the state and continue their spin about how this deal is “more favorable to the state of New Jersey and the taxpayers than any stadium deal ever.” That ought to give you some idea of how bad stadium deals are for taxpayers everywhere.

Governor Corzine can now press the state’s advantage. The longer negations are drawn out, the more it costs the Giants and Jets. And New Jersey can continue to collect revenue that would be lost if the deal went though unchanged.

Each year the Giants and Jets play in the existing stadium is another year they will not collect a projected $183 million in total revenue from a new, yet-to-be-named stadium. That is more than double what each team now collects in stadium-related revenue.
One more thing we’d like to add to Corzine’s negations list – the “New York” has to be dropped from the teams’ names and replaced with “New Jersey.” No name change, no deal.

We are with you all the way on this one Governor Corzine – go for it!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Socialist Utopias

Fausta's Blog has a great new look, very easy on the eyes. Reading her latest posts on Cuba and Venezuela reminds us of a question we’ve been meaning to ask the champions of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Why are the Spanish speaking peoples of Mexico, Central and South American immigrating, legally and illegally, to the United States rather than to these two worker’s paradises?

Speaking of socialist utopias, why are young people leaving Vermont? Ankle Biting Pundits writes that it’s because there's no jobs and they can't afford to live there. Professor Bainbridge explains Vermont's problems illustrate the social cost of high taxes, extensive regulation, and low growth policies. DynamoBuzz sees parallels to New Jersey.

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 42

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'D'igital Breakfast presents the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 42

Friday, March 03, 2006

The High Cost of Health Insurance Is the Symptom, Not the Disease

When is the left in this country going to learn that employee benefits are a component of a worker’s total compensation? Companies extend an offer of employment to a potential worker for certain amount of total compensation. The job seeker is free to take or leave the offer.

Completely unaware of the obvious, Democrats have introduced a bill that would require companies that have at least 1,000 employees in New Jersey to provide “affordable” health insurance coverage or pay a special surcharge to the state. The goal is to make companies pay for people who wind up getting their health insurance through state subsidized health insurance programs like New Jersey FamilyCare.

This bill is nothing more than an attempt to levy a new tax on companies targeted by unions and their political benefactors, Democrats. No surprise the new bill is being sponsored by Stephen Sweeney (D - Gloucester), part-time state senator and full-time union official.

Of course this is all done under the guise of protecting the taxpayer. Who is responsible for setting up the false premise that either the state has to pay or an employer has to pay for health insurance?

According to a study by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think tank, 51 of the state's largest employers, led by Wal-Mart, have 100 or more employees or dependents enrolled in NJ FamilyCare, the state health insurance program for the working poor.

"FamilyCare was not created so companies could shirk their responsibilities and have their employees covered at taxpayer expense," said Jon Shure, the organization's president.
Jon Shure doesn’t seem to understand it is not the government’s (taxpayer’s) responsibility or an employer’s responsibility to pay for all the goods and services an individual may want or need, and that includes health insurance. Somehow individual responsibility is always left out of the equation.

Raising the cost to employ lower skilled workers reduces the number of jobs available to this very labor pool. A few workers many benefit from so-called living wage and benefits schemes, but at a price borne by the many shut out from entry level jobs.

If the problem is affordable health insurance, then let’s work to solve that problem and not create a new one. Government has nearly destroyed the private medical insurance market in the United States. Instead of working to remove the regulations, mandates and restrictions standing in the way of a viable and affordable private health insurance market, politicians work to make matters worse and undermine the very people they claim they want to help.

However, there is some hope from a surprising source – Governor Jon Corzine.

Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday expressed reservations about the bill, which was debated at a special hearing of two state Senate committees. The governor said he is concerned about the impact the new mandates might have on the state's economy.
Increasing the cost to do business and surely increasing the unemployment rate is not the prescription needed to cure the financial basket case that is the state of New Jersey. Be bold Governor Corzine; create legislation that makes for an affordable “consumer-oriented” health insurance marketplace to the benefit to everyone in New Jersey. Cure the disease, don’t treat the symptom.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What Did Your Child Learn At School Today?

Joseph Kyle, 37, a Parsippany High School teacher is having President Bush tried for "crimes against civilian populations" and "inhumane treatment of prisoners" in his senior advanced placement government class. Students are arguing both sides before a five-teacher "international court of justice" during the weeklong trial. The panel's verdict could come as soon as Friday.

Kyle declined to discuss his opinion of Bush, the war in Iraq or the U.S. response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He said he isn't trying to show up the president. "President Bush is often tried in absentia all around the world," Kyle said. "All we hear in the papers is, war crimes this, war crimes that -- without even hearing a defense. It would be irresponsible for a teacher to pretend that isn't happening," Kyle said.
Yep, that’s all we hear too and it’s certainly worth at least one week of students’ time in an advanced placement government class. Why, the topic is so important that not only are the students spending a minimum of one week on this essential subject, five other teachers are assisting with lesson. All with the blessing of High school Principal Anthony Sciaino. When you think about it, it's darn near irresponsible not to include the entire school.

"I think that the way he's [Kyle] doing it, in that it's more of a debate, makes it ideal and connects perfectly with the AP government curriculum," Sciaino said.
That’s what we assumed – a curriculum of non-stop America bashing. After all what else is there left for kids to learn about their government? No doubt all of Kyle’s students will pass the AP exam with flying colors.

Kyle is no stranger to controversial topics. Starting on Tuesday, his sophomore class will put former President Andrew Jackson on trial for alleged abuses against Native Americans. Kyle insisted that he doesn't have a partisan agenda. While teaching at Montclair High School, he conducted an impeachment trial of President Clinton while he was in office. "There's nothing bad with exploring evidence on both sides," Kyle said.
No, there’s nothing wrong with exploring evidence on both sides. How else do we expect to groom little Ramsey Clarks? Who really cares if the students actually learn the recommended AP curriculum?

I. Constitutional Underpinnings of United States Government (5-15%)
II. Political Beliefs and Behaviors (10-20%)
III. Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media (10-20%)
IV. Institutions of National Government: The Congress, the Presidency, the bureaucracy, and the Federal Courts (35-45%)
V. Public Policy (5-15%)
VI. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (5-15%)
Just thinking of how well our property taxes are being spent on education makes us want to rethink our objection to the ridiculously high amounts we pay. And imaging how hard these six teachers have to work to pull off this lesson, we can understand the need for higher pay and better benefits for teachers.

But we are worried. Does high school teacher Joseph Kyle know anything about kids?

One thing that Kyle said he would like to keep private is the verdict. "That decision is going to be sealed," he said, explaining that students will be told the outcome but asked not to tell others.

What does play acting before an "international court of justice" have to do with a course on U.S. government? Absolutely nothing. It’s not in keeping with U.S. law or the Constitution. So how in the world could this stunt “connect perfectly with the AP government curriculum”? The school’s principal and the teacher clearly lack even a rudimentary understanding of U.S. government. Bad enough, but now they are passing their ignorance on to their students.

Update: Rant about Kyle removed. Although it should be noted Kyle is the union negotiator for Parsippany High School.

Upadate II: With e-mails and phone calls running 10-to-1 against this "lesson" Kyle decided “that rendering a decision would undermine the academic purpose of the exercise for the seniors in his advanced placement government class”. Kyle said the decision, "was not handed down" by administrators, and reasoned that "no verdict could be genuine because it wasn't a real trial anyway". We'll bet Kyle came to this decision without any direction from the school’s administration and board.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Remember Governor Corzine, Taxes Matter

A new study by the non-partisan group, the Tax Foundation found New Jersey’s business tax climate next to last in the nation, beating only 50th ranked New York.

Good state tax systems levy low, flat rates on the broadest bases possible, and they treat all taxpayers the same.
Those words apply to all taxes whether they are levied on personal income, property, sales transactions or businesses. New Jersey has been on a march to treat taxpayers differently with ever higher taxes and more progressive rates under the guise of fairness and the need to plug budget gaps. The gaps in New Jersey’s budget keep getting larger while other states are deciding how to handle budget surpluses.

Trenton is undermining the state’s one time competitive advantage – low taxes in comparison to other states. As New Jersey struggles with a huge debt load, a budget deficit and out of control state spending, political leaders would be wise to heed those words. Spendthrift politicians are taxing away the geese that lay the golden eggs and we all paying the price.

Between January 2005 and January 2006, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent from 5.2 percent, while unemployment in New Jersey rose to 4.6 percent from 3.9 percent.
Taxes matter - Taxes affect business decisions, job creation and retention, business and plant location, competitiveness, and the long-term health of a state’s economy. Most importantly, taxes diminish profits. If taxes take a larger portion of profits, that cost is passed along to either consumers (through higher prices), workers (through lower wages or fewer jobs), or shareholders (through lower dividends or share value). Thus a state with lower tax costs will be more attractive to business investment.

States do not enact tax changes (increases or cuts) in a vacuum - Every tax law will in some way change a state’s competitive position relative to its immediate neighbors, its geographic region, and even globally. Ultimately it will affect the state’s national standing as a place to live and to do business. Entrepreneurial states can take advantage of the tax increases of their neighbors to lure businesses out of high tax states.

The politicians in Trenton are spending and taxing productive people and businesses out of the state, further burdening those taxpayers yet to make the move. Governor Corzine has a pivotal role to play in whether New Jersey continues it slide to the bottom or reverses course and again becomes a great state to live, work and do business. Corzine’s state budget unveiling on March 21will make his preference clear.

Update: NJ Fiscal Folly has more - It's Not Just Property Taxes
Update II: Dynamobuzz and Smadanek provide further discussion and analysis.

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