Ed Driscoll

The Blue State Blues Last Waaaay Longer Than 12 Bars

Midwestern blogger “Dr. Wes” explores “What a Welfare State Looks Like:”

Only in Illinois: where teachers and union members rallied to raise more taxes yesterday.

And this is before the tax bill for health care comes due.

But there is a better option for our beleaguered state and it was offered by a member of the Democratic House in Illinois, Jack D. Franks.

We need to pressure our Illinois legislative leaders to support his legislation.

Only in Illinois? New Jersey dodged a huge financial bullet this week, blogger JammieWearingFool writes, spotting the “Earthquake in New Jersey: Majority of School Budgets Defeated”, though no thanks to the teachers’ unions:

In a crushing rejection of the thug tactics of the teacher’s unions, voters turned out in unusually high numbers Tuesday to reject a majority of proposed school budgets across the state of New Jersey, handing Governor Chris Christie a huge victory in his battle to help close the deficit in the state budget. Despite a high-stakes stare down and fear-mongering tactics by the unions, Christie emerges with an even stronger hand.

Take a victory lap, Governor.

New Jersey voters took a stand on school spending and property taxes Tuesday, rejecting 260 of 479 school budgets across 19 counties, according to unofficial results in statewide school elections.

In the proposed state budget he unveiled last month, Gov. Chris Christie slashed $820 million in aid to school districts and urged voters to defeat budgets if teachers in their schools did not agree to one-year wage freezes. The salvo ignited a heated debate with the state’s largest teachers union.

Christie said the cuts were necessary to help plug an $11 billion state budget gap.

In many districts Tuesday, the governor made himself heard as 54 percent of the spending plans were rejected, according to unofficial returns. If the trend continues, it would mark the most budget defeats in New Jersey since 1976, when 56 percent failed. Typically, voters approve more than 70 percent of the school budgets.

Why it’s historic! Unprecedented!

Key districts where budgets failed yesterday included Edison, Parsippany, Bridgewater-Raritan and Woodbridge. Budgets passed in Mountain Lakes, Piscataway, Livingston and Jersey City.

In wealthy Somerset County, voters defeated 15 of 17 spending plans; in Hunterdon County, 23 of 28 budgets failed. In the governor’s hometown, Mendham Township, the budget was narrowly approved.

Jeffrey Brookner, president of the Bridgewater-Raritan school board, said “lots of factors played into the defeat. One of those factors is the role that the governor played.”

Voter turnout was also high in elections that typically draw little interest. In Sparta, where turnout rivaled some presidential elections, the budget was defeated by roughly a 3-to-1 margin. Sparta teachers agreed to a one-year wage freeze late last week, but the budget still called for a nearly 10 percent tax increase for residents in the Sussex County community.

I had dinner in South Jersey on election day with some relatives who work in education, but are increasingly sympathetic to Christie’s reforms. (But the restaurant’s hostess actually attempted to lecture us on the vital necessity of spending education money into oblivion; she recognized my relatives from her school and immediately started reflexively Christie-bashing, assuming everyone at the table thought the same way she did.) I quipped that New Jersey’s governor has the perfect role model on the left coast: review Arnold Schwarzenegger’s record in California, and do the opposite.

So far, JWF writes, it’s working:

Can you imagine the media fawning over a guy like this if he was a Democrat? Well, I can handle that the national media isn’t slobbering over him like he’s a rock star. Especially since he’s just beginning to do his job and he’s actually doing something constructive.

Claiming the school budget defeat as a validation of his shrinking government plan, Gov. Chris Christie today pushed the next reforms on his agenda: A 2.5 percent constitutional cap on property taxes, and reforms to public worker pensions, benefits and the collective bargaining process.

Christie said New Jerseyans sent “an extraordinarily clear signal,” and the Democrat-controlled Legislature and local elected officials “ignore these results at their own political peril.”

Nationally, Democrats have been ignoring results at their own peril and we’re now seeing men like Christie emerge as leaders. Sure, it’s way too soon to project him onto a national stage or office, but at the same time, he already has more executive experience that Barack Obama has when he assumed the presidency.

“More executive experience that Barack Obama has when he assumed the presidency?” Somebody tell Andrew Sullivan!

Related: Mickey Kaus on why Texas is doing so much better than California, where Mickey is running against Barbara Boxer as something heretofore missing from that state: a self-professed “common sense Democrat.”