"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Jersey’s Highways Paved With Gold

As Governor Jon Corzine pushes forward with monetizing New Jersey’s Turnpike and Parkway, he might look at an alternative – wringing out the waste in the state’s interstate highway system.

On a per-mile basis, New Jersey takes in the most from taxpayers and spends the most on state-administered roadways as compared to the other forty-nine states. Maintenance spending per mile is 8 times the national average and administrative costs 9 times. Total cost per mile in New Jersey is nearly 19 times the national average.

“New Jersey's gridlocked highways, poor pavement conditions and high repair costs put the state last in overall cost-effectiveness for the eighth consecutive year” according to a newly released report on the Performance of State Highway Systems.

New Jersey has 2,906 miles of state-owned highway and receives more receipts per mile from the federal government, state-imposed fuel taxes, fees, tolls, bonds, etc. than any other state. New Jersey received an average of $2,370,630 per mile of state-administered roads as compared to a national average of $126,354. Massachusetts was second highest at $753,892 per mile

The national average for maintenance spending per mile was $19,615. New Jersey had the highest maintenance costs at $153,845 per mile. Florida was second highest with $90,410. For administrative costs per mile, the national average was $7,824 per mile - New Jersey spent the most at $68,352 per mile.

The following chart shows New Jersey’s performance rankings in 10 categories. The good news - our state had the fifth best interstate fatality rate and the best rural interstate pavement width. The bad news of course is on the high cost and relative poor condition of New Jersey’s state-administered highways, which includes the Turnpike and Parkway.

As the saying goes, a penny saved is a penny earned. There are hundreds of millions that could be saved and therefore, earned annually without monetizing New Jersey’s toll roads. Perhaps someone could bring this to Governor Corzine’s attention.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Life and Liberty

“This has been a great week for America. Our principles of equality and rule of law have been upheld, and that's worth celebrating”, writes Robb Pearson on Life & Liberty: An American Blog.

Pearson is referring to yesterday’s defeat of the Senate’s immigration bill and the U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring race-based assignments to public schools unconstitutional. The opinion can best be summed up with the words of Chief Justice John Roberts’ who wrote, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

It is time to celebrate and there’s no better time than now to remember the men and women who sacrifice greatly to maintain our freedom and way of life. An email expressing your support to a Marine in a combat zone would be greatly appreciated. Ken Adams has the details.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Senate Immigration Bill Goes Down In Defeat

The comprehensive Senate immigration reform bill goes down in defeat 46-53.

This quote gives the story in a nutshell:
Liberals felt it did not go far enough in protecting illegal immigrants, while conservatives rejected the bill because they felt it would grant amnesty to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.
The bill didn’t even receive simple majority support, let alone the necessary 60 votes for cloture. New Jersey Senators Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg both voted in favor the illegal alien amnesty bill. They were joined by 12 Republican Senators and 32 other Democrats.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stand Up For America!

On June 17, Day laborers from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut met in Morristown at a conference sponsored by the National Day Labor Organizing Network. A contingent gathered at the Morristown train station “demanding raids on illegal immigrants cease, and that any national legislation include a provision for family reunification”.

"We, the day laborers, are working people," Morristown resident Erick Carreto, 26, a community organizer for the Wind of the Spirit immigrant resource center, said through an interpreter.

Diana Mejia, also of Wind of the Spirit, said day laborers wanted to speak in Morristown because of Mayor Donald Cresitello's plan to deputize local police officers to enforce immigration law.
It appears the illegal aliens’ demands may well be met. The Senate today voted by a margin of 64-35 for cloture, a necessary step to revive the Senate’s immigration bill. The final bill would likely give amnesty to an estimated 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants and provide for chain migration to the U.S, also known as family reunification.

This Senate vote occurred despite the lack of support from the American people. The most recent polls show support for the immigration bill falling to an all-time low:

Among the public, there is a bi-partisan lack of enthusiasm for the Senate bill. It is supported by 22% of Republicans, 23% of Democrats, and 22% of those not affiliated with either major party.
New Jersey’s Senators Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg are currently on board with the bill, but you can make your voice heard at a ProAmerica Rally that will be held on Saturday July 28 in Morristown. Blogger Robb Pearson is organizing this event and has put together a website with all the details.
It’s time to stand up and make your voice heard!

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Doing What Menendez Does Best - Playing Politics And Raising Money

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez continues to push his personal story of victimhood. Last week it was in the Star-ledger. This week in a piece by the New York Times:

Mr. Menendez recently challenged a colleague on the floor of the Senate for referring to immigrants as “those people” and said he was personally insulted.

“I’ve heard ‘those people’ before,” he said. “I understand what that means. It’s not abstract.”
Here’s the transcript of the exchange from page S7136 of the Congressional Record of June 6, 2007 between Menendez and Senator Jon Kyl, the chief Republican proponent of the immigration reform bill:

Mr. KYL: It was not easy for some people to agree to allow at least 12 million immigrants who came to this country illegally to stay here and eventually become citizens. That was not easy. One of the bases upon which we were able to do that was to respond to an argument that had frequently been made: Why should we let all those people, is the way it is described, become U.S. citizens and then chain migrate all their family—their uncles, cousins, grandparents, and so on?

Mr. MENENDEZ: One point. Remember how the Senator from Arizona said how all ‘‘those people’’ would be able to claim their families. The Menendez amendment has nothing to do with ‘‘those people.’’ The Menendez amendment has everything to do with U.S. citizens today who have a right under the law. So I hope we do not confuse both of those.

Mr. KYL: Mr. President, I say to the Senator from New Jersey that what he said, as far as he said it, is, of course, exactly correct. What I was talking about was the tradeoff that existed between the accommodation to the 12 million people and--by the way, I don't use that phrase ``those people .'' I hope the Senator understands that I was referring to the criticism of those who say we shouldn't allow the illegal immigrants in the country, especially if we chain migrate their families.
Times reporter, Raymond Hernandez, should have checked the record and called Menendez on it, but he does offer this observation:

Yet as Mr. Menendez tries to remake his image, he finds it hard to avoid being pulled back into what he is known for doing best: playing politics and raising money.
Representing taxpayers and citizens of New Jersey? No, Menendez is looking to “advance his policy objectives” with your tax money. Playing the victim is part of his act.

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Lunching Ladies and Property Taxes

“They were ladies with $200 haircuts, lunching at a waterfront cafe facing Sandy Hook. He was a man with a baked-in tan and ripped sneakers, standing on a nearby dock, talking to the New York ferry.

The boat, it appeared, did not talk back. He didn't seem to mind.”

The opening lines of a fictional short story? No, the lede to a “news” article in the Star-Ledger.

Please. Are we to believe the intrepid reporter Judy Peet asked the lunching ladies how much they paid for their haircuts? Or that this conversation occurred within her earshot?

"That's what I mean," said one casually chic woman to the other. "How can this town improve if we don't do something about people like that?"
Or that someone bragged about the price of their new condo while explaining the need to get rid of the "working class white trash"?

Cottages are giving way to condos and as one new owner of a $350,000, two-bedroom unit put it: "It's time for the town to put pressure on these old clam diggers to clean up their properties or get out."
“New Highlands, meet old Highlands.”

Welfare mothers live side-by-side with teachers, writers and a Rutgers paleoanthropologist.
That’s the old Highlands. Who are these snobby people of the new Highlands? According to Peet, they are people who fled Manhattan after 9/11.

“Working-class town shifts from gritty to grand as wealthy move in” and stories of “class conflict” abound. Oh, and Peet mentions property taxes have increased 43 percent.

No wonder people walk around muttering to themselves.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Corzine Fails To Address Staggering Costs For Public Employee Health Care

In his Budget Address in February, Gov. Jon Corzine said:

Healthcare costs for state workers and retirees are projected to double—from $1.4 billion to $2.8 billion in five years. Post-retirement medical costs for teachers are expected to more than double—from $750 million this year to $1.8 billion in just five years.
In his April testimony before the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, New Jersey State Treasurer Bradley Abelow said:

In addition to the unfunded pension liability, our actuary’s preliminary estimate of the State’s future liability for postretirement medical benefits for current and future retirees is a staggering $78 billion.
These staggering costs for public employee health care and other benefits needed to be addressed in this year’s contract negotiations with state worker and teachers’ unions. Instead, Corzine agreed to a sweetheart deal that had unions bragging about the best deal they’ve negotiated in 15 years.

The new four-year union contact had one element to address retiree health care costs - future retirees were to have contributed 1.5 percent of their pensions toward the cost of their health benefits. Now, even that small concession has been abandoned.

Just three months after signing off on a landmark state worker contract that traded generous pay hikes for increased employee payments toward health benefits, Gov. Jon Corzine's administration is backing away from one key feature of the new pact.

[T]he Corzine administration has agreed to scrap a requirement that future retirees contribute 1.5 percent of their pensions toward the cost of their health benefits.
Under the amended agreement retired workers will be able to continue getting free health insurance if they sign up for a "wellness program". Paid for by taxpayers, of course.

"The change is de minimis relative to the overall scale of what has occurred," Corzine said.
Compared to a $78 billion obligation nearly any amount is “de minimis”, including the total of New Jersey state assets, valued at $35.4 billion, according a recent report by Credit Suisse.

Corzine’s excuse for caving into union demands after the contract had been ratified by union members only serves to highlight the incompetence of his administration. The new and improved healthcare plan won’t be ready until April 1 rather than January 1 as required by the deal.

Corzine said the process of soliciting and evaluating bids for insurers to offer the new health plans took longer than expected.
Corzine may be slow with getting the job done, but he really knows how to drive a hard bargain. The negotiated price for the three month delay is totally free retiree health insurance and a wellness program. Keep this in mind when Corzine sells the Turnpike and Parkway as a down payment on the state’s obligation to public employees. Taxes will have to be raised 24 percent to pay for the rest.

In the meantime, New Jersey’s public employee payrolls continue to swell with more workers being added to the burden. In the past year, the state has added 1,000 workers and local governments have added 5,000.

The question remains, will this sorry situation have any impact on this fall’s elections?

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Is This Fair?

Last week, we pointed out the funding inequities of New Jersey’s Central Regional school district for the 2005-2006 school year.

A 1999 New Jersey state report on school consolidation also noted the problem.

“Our particular town [Seaside Park], for example, is paying approximately $25,000 per student, whereas another town in the district was around $4,000.
In a span of seven years, Seaside Park’s payments had grown from $25,000 to $51,500 per student while the other town’s had gone from $4,000 to $5,500 per pupil. Is this fair?

Central Regional is not a one-off in New Jersey. Bob at eCache has previously written about the Lower Cape May Regional school district where “Lower Township kicks in $5,300 per student” and the “taxpayers of Cape May pay $41,200”.

Public school spending and funding are totally out of control in New Jersey. Republicans should make this the number one issue in this fall’s elections.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Buyout Offers Backfire

Roberto is back to blogging on DynamoBuzz, so be sure to put him on your daily read list.

Today, he’s writing about a couple of New Jersey issues appearing in the New York Times, including the one about the 5,500 state workers Governor Jim McGreevey laid off with buyout packages that have come back to haunt taxpayers. As have the workers who were immediately hired to take their place.

The facts about this debacle can be found in the Times graphic to the left and commentary from Roberto.

Some people refuse to learn. Facing Gap in Budget, Newark Plans Buyout Offers.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

New Jersey Taxpayer Hell Story #1,835,412

Central Regional is a 7-12 school district located in central New Jersey serving the municipalities of Berkeley Township, Island Heights, Ocean Gate, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. Total student population is about 2,400.

This is how property tax relief through school consolidation has worked out for those communities:

When Central Regional was created, the towns agreed that it would be funded on pupil enrollment, or per-pupil funding. But when the Legislature revised the school-funding laws in 1975 requiring the conversion of all regional district tax levies to be apportioned based on the equalized value of real estate, it evolved to the point where Seaside Park was paying $51,500 per pupil during the 2005-2006 school year while the other towns in the district paid an average of $10,000 or less per pupil.
This is exactly why Democrats are pushing for the consolidation of schools into 21 county school districts. Their plan offers no actual savings, but would ratchet-up property taxes for some and produce “property tax relief” for others. The county plan would consolidate the political power of the purse into the hands of 21 Governor appointed county school superintendents. The first step was taken with the introduction of two bills in the state’s legislature - A-4 and S-10.

The state’s income tax was created in 1975 to provide “property tax relief” through state aid to school districts. You can see how well school consolidation and the state’s income tax have worked out for the people of Seaside Park, Seaside Heights and Island Heights - communities that voted overwhelmingly to break from Central Regional. These taxpayers are trapped.

The state forced Seaside Park taxpayers to bear a disproportionate portion of the burden to educate the students of the district. One count claims that by virtue of the number of Berkeley's registered voters — 30,975 — Berkeley has "absolute power to block the attempts of any of the other constituent districts seeking withdrawal from, or dissolution of, Central Regional, as well as the power to block any attempt to change the apportionment method."
As a last resort, the people of Seaside Park are asking a Superior Court judge “to compel state Education Commissioner Lucille E. Davy to dissolve the Central Regional School District, permit Seaside Park to withdraw from it or change the district's funding formula”.

"It's unfortunate that they are pursuing it after it was voted down," said Central Regional School District Superintendent David Trethaway.
“The people have spoken – make the other guy pay!” Tyranny of the majority in action. Seaside Park property taxpayers are shelling out $51,500 per student while another town in the same school distinct pays only $5,500 per pupil. Care to guess which one? We’ll give you a hint.

Berkeley Mayor Jason J. Varano said, “I feel they're just wasting the school administration's time and money when they are supposed to be concentrating on providing our students with the best education possible."
Spending someone else’s money - isn’t it great!

We wish the taxpayers luck with their lawsuit, but history has shown New Jersey’s courts to have a decidedly anti-taxpayer bias. The only way out of this taxpayer hell is to move.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

This Brand of Journalism Should R.I.P

The Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran wrote a column yesterday about “immigration reform” and Senator Bob Menendez, a member of the gang of 12 who negotiated the failed “grand bargain” in the U.S. Senate.

The column is remarkable for the level of Moran’s mendacity, beginning with this whopper. Moran writes that Menendez is “himself an immigrant from Cuba”. In fact, the only migration Menendez experienced was from his birthplace in New York to New Jersey, where he has lived most of his life, save for his time spent in Washington D.C.

Painting Menendez as some sort of victim is central to the media’s narrative about the man, which Moran uses to set up the remainder of his piece.

Moran laughably tells his readers that Menendez “is a liberal Democrat, but one who likes to strike deals with Republicans to get things done.” No examples where given to back up this preposterous claim. Probably because anyone remotely familiar with the perennial backbencher knows that Menendez’s idea of a deal is of the “heads I win, tails you lose” variety. So it was with his tactics on the immigration bill. "Do we want to see principle in our public servants?" Menendez asks. "Or do we want them to equivocate for the sake of bipartisanship?"

At its core, the compromise he pushed would toughen border security while allowing the 12 million illegal immigrants already within our borders to earn citizenship. Polls show most American support the idea.
Of course polls show no such thing, which is one of the reasons, the so-called compromise failed. The American people were against it, especially those provisions favored by Menendez.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters would favor an approach that focuses “exclusively on securing the border and reducing illegal immigration.” Support for the enforcement only approach comes from 84% of Republicans, 55% of Democrats, and 69% of those not affiliated with either major party.
Moran tries to lead his readers to falsely believe, “penalties and fees for illegals seeking citizenship, a petty move that would inevitably discourage some from applying”, were a part of a deal breaking amendment. They weren’t. The “petty fines and fees” were a central part of the original Senate bill and the fig leaf used by proponents to pretend illegal aliens would not be receiving amenity.

Moran writes, “But now, Menendez says he would not vote for this bill unless it is fundamentally changed.”

His biggest objection is aimed at a provision that would emphasize job skills over family relationships in awarding visas.
That was another key provision in the original Senate bill that Menendez supposedly helped to negotiate, along with the misguided “huge guest worker program”. Menendez objects to the plan because it wouldn’t lead to permanent legal residency for “guest workers” and additional chain-migration for their family members. It was Menendez who tried to change it with an amendment.

Moran explains that “On a personal level, Menendez sounds deflated by the experience”.

"What surprised me was the vehemence of some of the language," he says. "I heard, 'those people.' When I hear that, it just sends a shiver up my spine."

He was referring to Arizona Sen. John Kyl, a Republican, who used the phrase on the Senate floor last week to describe the illegal immigrant population.
The Congressional Record tells a different story about the exchange between Menendez and Jon Kyl, the chief Republican proponent of the “grand bargain” of a bill that was to bear the Republican’s name along with Democrat Ted Kennedy. The “shiver up my spine” exchange Moran refers to is on page S7136 of the Congressional Record of June 6, 2007:

Mr. KYL: It was not easy for some people to agree to allow at least 12 million immigrants who came to this country illegally to stay here and eventually become citizens. That was not easy. One of the bases upon which we were able to do that was to respond to an argument that had frequently been made: Why should we let all those people, is the way it is described, become U.S. citizens and then chain migrate all their family—their uncles, cousins, grandparents, and so on?

Mr. MENENDEZ: One point. Remember how the Senator from Arizona said how all ‘‘those people’’ would be able to claim their families. The Menendez amendment has nothing to do with ‘‘those people.’’ The Menendez amendment has everything to do with U.S. citizens today who have a right under the law. So I hope we do not confuse both of those.

Mr. KYL: Mr. President, I say to the Senator from New Jersey that what he said, as far as he said it, is, of course, exactly correct. What I was talking about was the tradeoff that existed between the accommodation to the 12 million people and--by the way, I don't use that phrase ``those people .'' I hope the Senator understands that I was referring to the criticism of those who say we shouldn't allow the illegal immigrants in the country, especially if we chain migrate their families.
There are those people who check the facts and then, there are those people who don’t. Some people try to enlighten, others try to intentionally mislead. Moran seems to be one of those people following into the latter of both camps.

But, Moran did get one thing right about Menendez. “He is far more permissive than most when it comes to immigration.” New Jersey’s senior Senator, Bob Menendez has a voting record to back up the claim. We checked the facts.

"There's a great deal of ignorance out there." Someone should tell Paul Mulshine a good bit of it comes from his newspaper. May his and Moran’s brand of journalism R.I.P.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Democrats Agree On State Budget, Ignore Republicans

Gov. Jon Corzine (D-Hudson), Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) and Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) have struck a deal on a $33.5 billion state budget for 2008. The plan will boost state spending by 7.7 percent over last year with $2.4 billion in new spending.

Republicans had hoped Democrats would consider their recommendations for more than $1.5 billion in spending reductions, but were not given any consideration. Instead, Democrats have decided to spend $200 million more than Corzine’s original budget proposal.

Twenty-six percent of the budget will be spent on running the state and delivering services. The remaining 74 percent, about $25 billion, will be distributed to favored constituencies.

Here’s how Democrats have decided to allocate state aid for public schools for the coming school year. As you can see from the chart below, state aid will vary wildly by county – from a low of $1,611 to a high of $11,999 per student. Bergen, Morris, Somerset counties are the big losers, receiving less than $2,000 in state aid per student. Hunterdon County doesn’t fair much better at $2.049.

NJ State Education Aid 2007-08

Sources: New Jersey Department of Education – State Aid Summaries and Education Data

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Corzine Looks to Recycle Failure

Gov. Jon Corzine is negotiating to name Joe Doria as either education commissioner or a chief adviser on education.

Corzine's plan, according to the sources, is to assign Doria immediately to shepherd one of his top priorities: revamping New Jersey's much-criticized school-funding formula.
If you were looking to find someone to create an equitable state funding formula for New Jersey’s public schools, would you seriously consider the double dipping mayor of Bayonne and state senator, Joseph Doria (D-Hudson)?

As Assembly speaker during Gov. Jim Florio's administration, Doria sponsored and helped pass in 1990 the Quality Education Act, Florio's controversial overhaul of the school funding formula. It used money generated by a hike in the state income tax to increase state spending on schools, with a large portion directed to the poorest urban districts.
The results of Doria’s handiwork? The highest property taxes in the nation, $13 billion in state income taxes and a public school funding formula that has lavished state aid on the 31 Abbott school districts with absolutely nothing but a bankrupt state to show for it.

The New York Times just published per student spending for the 2004-2005 school year. The figures are actually two years old, but it’ll give you an idea of how out of whack Abbott school spending has become. Asbury Park was spending $23,572 per student, Hoboken $22,221 and Newark $20,482, just to cite the top three Abbott school districts. That compares to an average of $11,300 per pupil in the wealthy school districts and a state average, not including the Abbotts, of $11,056 per student. It’s been two years, so naturally current spending is much higher.

Hasn’t Joe Doria already done enough?

Doria began his political career on the Bayonne Board of Education in the 1970s. A fixture in Trenton for nearly three decades, Doria racked up 12 terms in the Assembly, including a stint as chairman of the education committee. He was ousted from his Assembly seat in 2004, but returned to Legislature in 2005 as a senator after the unexpected death of Sen. Glenn Cunningham. In March, Doria announced he would not stand for re-election.

Doria has been mayor of Bayonne since 1998 and has nearly three years left in his current term, his third.
Is there so little talent or new thinking in New Jersey’s Democratic Party that they have to keep recycling the same failed polices and politicians ad nauseum?

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Monday, June 11, 2007

The War On New Jersey’s Taxpayers

Tom Moran lobs a bomb:

Republicans tend to get defensive when they are accused of favoring the rich over the poor. That's class warfare, we are told. And it's just not American.

Which makes it difficult to be polite while discussing the latest Republican moves on the state budget. Because the GOP plan is crowded with efforts to take money from poor cities and shift it to wealthier suburbs.

Look at the facts.
Yes, let us look at the facts, beginning with Moran's premise that Republicans want to “take money from poor cities and shift it to wealthier suburbs.”

There is no Republican plan to tax poor people and transfer the proceeds to the wealthy. There is no plan to take money from “poor cities” and shift it to wealthier suburbs. Money is taken from taxpayers and shifted to tax receivers. Under the Republican plan, “poor cites” would still receive more funding than last year, just not as much as Democrats would like.

Here’s the list of budget cuts proposed by Republicans. These cuts take into accout programs that have not produced results and the billions of taxpayer dollars “poor cites” have wasted through financial mismanagement and outright fraud.

The Republican plan is to implement spending controls and invest, as Democrats like to say, a tiny fraction of the budget in the state’s neglected suburbs to help limit the growth in property taxes.

And this may come as a shock to Moran, but not everyone who lives in the suburbs is a Wall Street tycoon, just as everyone one who lives in a city is not a pauper. Hoboken, a “poor city”, where Jon Corzine, Carla Katz and Bob Menendez hang their hat from time to time immediately comes to mind.

Times have changed - 13 Abbott school cities no longer meet the criteria established for the Abbott designation, but continue to receive huge state subsidies.

The class warrior, Moran, continues:
It would drastically cut state aid to urban schools, forcing major layoffs in the state's poorest districts.

Most of that money would be redirected to growing suburban schools on a per-student basis, with no regard to the district's level of wealth.
Republicans are proposing a more equitable allocation of education aid to all school districts. The 31 Abbott towns have been spending without regard to state taxpayers and the children in New Jersey’s other 535 municipalities.

It’s no exaggeration to say Abbott school spending is completely out of control with Asbury Park spending $23,572 per student and the state’s largest school district, Newark, $21,503. Most of that Abbott funding comes from the state’s income taxpayers unlike the funding for New Jersey’s non-Abbott school districts which spend an average of $11,056 per student.

The so-called “poor Abbott school districts” spend far more per pupil than the state’s wealthy school districts and have been doing so since 1997. To quote what Corzine administration officials told the New Jersey Supreme Court:
Abbott districts have been spending at some of the highest levels in the State, and well beyond non-Abbott districts, with no discernable correlation to improved achievement.

Of the 25 highest spending K-12 districts, 17 are Abbott districts. Moreover, the three highest spending K-12 districts in the State are Abbott districts.

The Abbott districts have not been required to exercise the fiscal discipline that the State and other school districts must undergo; instead they have been allowed to balance their budget through virtually unlimited supplemental funding requests.
As for forcing major layoffs in the state's “poorest school districts”, it’s good to see Moran understands where the bulk of all that extra funding has been spent – on superfluous jobs that have contributed nothing to student achievement.

Moran soldiers on:
It would kill a big tax cut proposed by Gov. Jon Corzine for the working poor.

So why is this the only tax cut in the world that Republicans in Trenton now oppose? Could it be because it is aimed exclusively at working families earning less than $38,000 a year, who tend to favor Democrats?
Republicans oppose the measure because it isn’t a tax cut. Corzine’s plan would provide a refundable tax credit, meaning that qualifying tax filers would receive a refund check greater than the amount of state income tax they paid. It would reduce the “property tax relief fund” by $64 million.

It’s one thing to eliminate state income taxes for those earning less than $38,000 and quite another to provide people with a subsidy from the state’s school aid fund. It’s not a tax cut, it’s a grant.

Moran fights any defense of taxpayers:

The political calculus behind this is pretty simple. Republicans are giving up on winning elections in the cities -- which makes tactical sense, since they don't have much of a prayer in that fight anyway.

They are going for the swing districts in the suburbs. Places like Monmouth County, where Democratic Sen. Ellen Karcher faces a tough re-election fight, and Gloucester County, where Democratic Sen. Steve Sweeney is a target.
How about we just say Republicans are going after the vote of taxpayers regardless of where they live. It’s about time.

Moran goes for the kill:

So which side, in the end, is really waging class warfare?
Democrats and their tax receiving backers comprising all economic classes, that’s who. It is Democrats who have made war on the taxpaying class - raiding their incomes, savings and property. The people who pay the bills in this state are sick and tied of being portrayed as the bad guys while being treated like an ATM account with an unlimited balance.

Putting the brakes on wasteful state spending isn’t class warfare it’s called good government. Pretending the poor in New Jersey are somehow being shortchanged by taxpayers is demagoguery.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

What Illegal Immigration Crackdown

Arrests double in crackdown on illegal immigrants in N.J” say the headlines in the newspapers across the Garden State. What a joke.

It’s estimated the illegal alien population in New Jersey is between 480,000 to 1 million. There’s less than a 1 percent chance of an illegal alien being arrested and an infinitesimal probability of being deported under this so-called “crackdown”.

Last year the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 1,772 illegal immigrants in New Jersey – 987 were removed from the United States, 350 were placed on a detainer which requires deportation proceedings begin after criminal charges are resolved and 435 were simply released on immigrations bonds.

New Jersey’s 300 ICE agents averaged slightly less than 6 illegal alien arrests per agent last year. Of the 1.772 arrested, 1,610 were immigration fugitives who had previously been arrested, but ignored final orders of deportation issued by immigration judges. In other words, the “crackdown” amounted to 162 additional illegal aliens being caught in New Jersey for all of 2006, or about one arrest for every two ICE agents.


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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bi-partisan Opposition To Senate Immigration Reform Bill

According to the latest Rasmussen Poll, public support for the Senate “immigration reform“ bill continues to slide with bi-partisan opposition to the grand bargain.

A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted Monday and Tuesday night found that just 23% of voters now support the bill while 50% are opposed.

Just 29% of Democrats support the measure while 40% are opposed. Among Republicans, support is at 21%, 57% are opposed. Only 17% of those not affiliated with either party support the measure. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of unaffiliateds are opposed.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters prefer no bill over the Senate bill.

Seventy-two percent (72%) of voters believe it is Very Important for “the government to improve its enforcement of the borders and reduce illegal immigration.”

Adding pressure to Congress is the fact that voters see this objective as achievable --68% of Americans believe it is possible to reduce illegal immigration.
Where’s the Republican Party in New Jersey on this issue? Leadership is not flying below the radar.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Environmental Policies

Environment New Jersey Research and Policy Center released a report predicting all sorts of doom and gloom for New Jersey unless the state establishes a mandatory cap on carbon emissions, institutes a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants and creates a long-term emissions reduction plan that would ensure an 80 percent reduction in green house gases by 2050.

Interestingly, there’s not a scientist on Environment New Jersey Research and Policy Center’s staff, although report writer Suzanne Leta Liou did take a college course in statistics. She also leads the group’s campaign to close Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, undeterred by the fact New Jersey relies on nuclear energy for about 50 percent of the state's electricity.

Electricity generation accounts for the largest portion of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, nearly 40 percent. Because the Garden Sate relies so heavily on nuclear power, New Jersey ranks 47th in the nation in per capita emissions from electric power generation. New Jersey ranks 18th in greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation and accounts for about half the state's total carbon dioxide emissions.

We figure the state’s strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is to drive jobs and people out of New Jersey though high taxes and other policies ruinous to the state’s economy. It seems to be working.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Jersey News Below the Fold - Edition I

NJ Exporting Welfare Recipients and Crime?

Altoona Mayor Wayne Hippo is looking into filing a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey for allegedly urging welfare recipients to move to Altoona for low-income housing. He's been working with the police to investigate crime in Blair County - including drug rings and shootings - connected to former New Jersey residents who have moved to Altoona, Pa.

Compulsory “Volunteerism”

Should public school students be compelled to provide community service as a requirement for high school graduation? If a pilot program, created by a 2005 state law requiring community service from high school juniors, is deemed successful, New Jersey will become the second state, after Maryland, to make it mandatory for high school graduation.

High Priced Lawyers Hired to Fire Crook

It cost UMDNJ more than $450,000 in lawyer fees to fire former School of Osteopathic Medicine Dean R. Michael Gallagher, who was indicted in March on 13 counts of bribery and fraud. UMDNJ trustee chairman Robert Del Tufo said, “the cost was warranted because the public institution had never before fired a tenured leader”.

AC Dealers Feeling Lucky

Casino dealers at Bally's Atlantic City voted in favor of becoming part of the United Auto Workers union. They must be feeling lucky, considering how well the union deal worked out for American auto workers.

Highway of Death

New Jersey traffic fatalities have begun rising for the first time in a generation while the nation’s highway death rate declined slightly in 2006. Last year, 938 people were killed, including 168 pedestrians in the Garden State.

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Friday, June 01, 2007


It Was 40 Years Ago Today!

Daniel Levitin in today's Washington Post commemorates the 40th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper:

Yes, it's been 40 years exactly since Sgt. Pepper, having labored the previous 20 years teaching his band to play, arranged for its debut in full psychedelic regalia.

Paul McCartney may be the closest thing our generation has produced to Franz Schubert -- a master of melody, writing tunes anyone can sing, songs that seem to have been there all along.

A hundred years from now, musicologists say, Beatles songs will be so well known that every child will learn them as nursery rhymes, and most people won't know who wrote them

Figuring out why some songs and not others stick in our heads, and why we can enjoy certain songs across a lifetime, is the work not just of composers but also of psychologists and neuroscientists.

To a neuroscientist, the longevity of the Beatles can be explained by the fact that their music created subtle and rewarding schematic violations of popular musical forms, causing a symphony of neural firings from the cerebellum to the prefrontal cortex, joined by a chorus of the limbic system and an ostinato from the brainstem.

In my laboratory, we've found that listening to a familiar song that you like activates the same parts of the brain as eating chocolate, having sex or taking opiates. There really is a sex, drugs and rock-and-roll part of the brain: a network of neural structures including the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala. But no one song does this for everyone, and musical taste is both variable and subjective.

The act we've known for all these years is still in style, guaranteed to raise a smile, one hopes for generations to come. I have to admit, it's getting better all the time.
Read the whole thing and then give Sgt. Pepper a listen.

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The Worst New Jersey’s Political Machines Has To Offer

The Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran on the worst New Jersey's political machines has to offer:

The latest example is Sandra Cunningham, who is running for Senate as the choice of the infamous Hudson County Democrats.

Cunningham says her main concerns are crime, jobs and housing. Sounds reasonable. So how would she address those problems?

"I have not really come up with solutions," she says. "We need to come up with an urban plan, to try to come up with programs that address these issues."

The truth is the Democratic Party chose Cunningham because her husband was popular, and because she's an African-American candidate in a district where roughly half the voters are, too. Her opponent in Tuesday's primary, Assemblyman Lou Manzo, is white.

You have to wonder: Is this really the best and the brightest of Hudson County?
To be fair, Moran should have mentioned Lou Manzo hasn’t really come up with “solutions” either - just a laundry list of platitudes. Power and spending other people’s money are the New Jersey Democratic Party’s main concerns; nominating the best and brightest would only be an impediment.

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