…and therein lies Jon Corzines problem…

Two months after we the people rejected Corzine’s little $450 million in new borrowing for his stem-cell initiative, he stood before the state legislature and informed that the state was in a deep financial crisis – that NJ borrowed much more than it can pay back and something must be done…

SO: if in January, he “fesses up to the obvious”, why two months earlier is he pushing to borrow another $450 million???

Very interesting read from our friends at inthelobby.net

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After his successsful sneak attack on Pearl Habor, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is said to have lamented, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Fast-forward 66 years, and you have to wonder: Does Jon Corzine suspect that he may have done the same thing?

Call it what you will, but something is happening in the New Jersey electorate. It started in November, when voters who were smarter than their government rejected $450 million in new borrowing to pay for the operating costs of stem cell research centers that the state had already agreed to borrow $270 million to build.

Corzine, who sunk at least $100,000 of his own money into a pro-stem cell advertising campaign, was stunned when it didn’t pass, after pollsters and pundits and his own sensibilities had assured him it would.

Two months after that defeat, he stood before the state Legislature and solemnly exclaimed that New Jersey was in a deep financial crisis. The state had borrowed to the point of excess; debt service was eating up the budget, and something must be done.

His plan, as we all now know, was to turn control of the toll roads to a Public Benefit Corporation, which could sell bonds off the toll roads and raise tolls by 800 percent.

So here’s a question Corzine’s never answered: If he knew that the borrowing was eating the New Jersey budget alive in 2007 – as he surely did – why in the world was he out there promoting the sale of another $450 million in bonds?

And therein lies Jon Corzine’s problem.

He may not have connected the dots, but the public does. Corzine is no different than other politicians when it comes to spending our money on programs he thinks we should have — even if we can’t afford it.

That point became even clearer after his administration admitted that they also plan to go out and bond for another $2.5 billion in school construction – even though the state had already wasted more than $6 billion with very few schools to show for it the first time around.

For all his talk about putting the borrowing to the public, he doesn’t mean it. How can he? Corzine has given every Trenton politician a “Get Out of Jail” card when it comes to borrowing. As long as they declare that the bond issue would be paid for by an existing tax stream, it doesn’t have to go before the voters.
And that will stop borrowing how?For all his talk, Corzine’s vaulted promise that all future borrowing would go before the voters isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Trenton politicians – heck, all politicians – want what they want when they want it. Corzine wanted to be a player in stem cell research. He wants to build new schools. The state doesn’t have any money, but why let that stand in the way of his legacy?

Only one problem. The voters said no to stem cell research.

He won’t make that mistake again. That’s why he says the school construction doesn’t need to go to the voters. And why he won’t put his massive $38 billion toll hike scheme before the voters.

Technically, he says it’s because they’ll both have dedicated funding (taxes on school construction, toll hikes on the toll roads.) The reality, however, is much simpler.

He can’t trust us not to say no.

When he went into the belly of the beast this week – Monmouth and Ocean counties, two areas that will be hurt the most by the toll hike plan – Corzine was likely not expecting the level of anger he heard from the residents.

And he was probably stunned that they knew all about his inconsistencies: agreeing to raises for judges, despite the state being broke; shouting down his attempts to say that any cuts in the budget would result in hospitals closing; and generally demanding that the government cut itself, before he asks them for any more money.

We love how whenever the governor is questioned on why he is forcing the state’s burden on such a small segment of the population, he pipes up with how frequent commuters could get a discount of 20 to 25 percent.

As if turning an 800 percent toll hike into a 600 or 660 percent toll hike somehow makes it fair or acceptable.

The real reason that Corzine wants commuters and those who drive the toll roads to pay an 800 percent increase is purely political: it affects fewer people than an overall hike in the gas tax, combined with significant spending cuts, would.

Want proof? Check out this map developed for the Asbury Park Press by City University finance professor Jonathan Peters. It shows where the highest concentration of E-ZPass users live in New Jersey.

Three guesses what counties appear hardest hit – Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex. The bulk of the counties don’t have significant numbers of E-ZPass drivers, according to this map.

It’s the same reason he’s putting off the toll hikes until the year after he and the state Legislature stand for re-election.

But Corzine couldn’t be that cynical, could he?

What the governor underestimated – as he underestimated in the stem cell research vote – is that New Jerseyans aren’t stupid. Their rising property tax bills have ended whatever complacency they once had.

They love their state, but they either can’t afford to live here, or are afraid they won’t be able to in a few years.

There’s a reason why more people are leaving New Jersey than coming in.

The people of New Jersey recognize that the politicians who are running their state government don’t understand that the status quo no longer works. That government spending is not the answer to their problem; it is the source of their problem. That government’s efforts to protect the bureaucracy are harming their families.

They understand that an 800 percent toll hike will mean all New Jerseyans will pay more for food, clothing and goods. That businesses like shipping and warehouses and distribution may move to other states, and take their jobs with them.

They know that families in New Jersey are forced to make hard choices every day in order to make ends meet, and government should have to make those same hard choices – before they go to the people and ask them for more.

A larger government will not make the lives of New Jersey families any better. A larger paycheck, and fewer taxes – and tolls – will. New Jerseyans are willing to make some sacrifices in order to fix the fiscal mess, but they’re not willing to be the only ones –and they want the government to be cut down to size first. Otherwise, the people know that despite what Corzine says, the government will go on, spending money it just doesn’t have.

Corzine’s already doing it – his new school funding formula expands government by mandating preschool education for low-income students, without identifying how he’s going to pay for it.

Whatever hopes the governor had that he could rush this plan of his through the Legislature has fallen wayside to the anger of the public. Tomorrow, there will be a rally at noon at the Statehouse, sponsored by NJ101.5 radio, to show voter discontent. The only way Trenton will listen is if they fear the wrath of the voters. A large crowd will make them notice.

In 1941, it was bombs over Pearl Harbor that awakened the anger of America. In 2008 New Jersey, it may well be pigs flying over the Statehouse.

Either way, New Jersey is awake. Let’s see how many politicians in Trenton start paying attention.

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