Corzine Sets The Table For Tax Increases
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.