New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has hit some bumps on the road to re-election — and he’s trying to smooth the way with money from his own pockets.
Corzine’s popularity hit the skids because he ran up the state budget year after year. In 2009, the state received $2 billion in federal stimulus money and the budget was balanced for the first time in years. Still, New Jersey ranks the highest in the nation in property taxes and its public schools have some of the highest spending in the country without consistently good results. Also, the state’s infrastructure has been further neglected during Corzine’s tenure.
Residents have been voting with their feet during the last decade. Since 2000, an estimated 250,000 residents have left the state, along with many small businesses, which are pummeled by the escalating progressive tax rates. By now the largest employer in New Jersey is the state of New Jersey. Those of us who remain continue to struggle with the punishing taxes — now the highest in the country. It’s not just the property taxes; it’s also the state income tax, the sales tax, inheritance taxes, and every other tax you can think of — all increasing.
Things are bad enough that when you pick up New Jersey magazine at the check-out counter, you find that most of the ads in the back pages belong to developers promoting properties in Pennsylvania and Delaware, states that aren’t as punitive with their residents when it comes to taxes. “Come to Bucks County! We’re near Princeton but you don’t get scalped,” they seem to say.
The Republican candidate, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, is running on the tax issue. His campaign motto is “providing real property tax relief.” Christie is calling for reductions in state spending, pension reform, and requirements for public employees to contribute more toward their benefits. In a state where the government is the largest employer, this has negatively affected Christie’s campaign.
Unfortunately, during an October 9 interview Christie said he will “put plans for sweeping tax cuts and spending increases on hold until the economy begins to recover” — whenever that may be.