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
Reducing Gang-Related Violence
Promoting Women’s Health
Addressing Violence Against Women
Children and Families
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!
Governor Jon S. Corzine:
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