Republican Alternative Budget: A common-sense plan

BY TOM KEAN AND ALEX DeCROCE

Gov. Jon Corzine deserves credit for drawing a line in the sand and telling the members of his own party that, for the first time in six years, they must pass a state budget that reduces spending.

But Republicans in the Senate and General Assembly realize that New Jersey is enduring more than just a budget shortfall — it’s suffering from an affordability crisis.

Under the state Constitution, we have until June 30 to come up with a budget that addresses that crisis, not just patches over fiscal problems for one more year.

We need a budget that addresses affordability today. It’s become far more difficult to live in New Jersey because of rising fuel and food prices, a weakening economy that reduces incomes and, most important, some of the highest taxes in the nation.

During the last six years, state government has increased 101 state taxes and fees while freezing state aid to our municipalities and school districts, which resulted in dramatic property-tax increases, some in excess of 42 percent.

The combination of higher taxes, rising cost of living and a stagnant private-sector economy has led people to flee New Jersey for more affordable states. Those who left New Jersey took $7.9 billion in income with them — money that could have been reinvested in schools, bridges and other priorities that would have benefited our children.

The Republicans’ top priority in crafting an alternative to the governor’s budget was to make our state more affordable — to ensure that New Jersey families aren’t broken up by the exit of our children looking for jobs or senior citizens searching for homes they can afford on a fixed income.

This meant providing property- tax relief and boosting our economy so we can attract higher-paying jobs and dynamic new industries. We wanted to head off higher gas taxes or tolls that the Democrats say they may impose later this year. It’s time to restrain the urge to tax and do more to reduce the property-tax burden.

While the Corzine budget proposal reduces spending, it does so largely on the backs of the middle class. The governor’s budget cuts tax rebates, slashes municipal aid needed to keep property taxes in check, lowers funding for hospitals that provide charity care and reduces financial aid for outstanding college students.

We’d rather eliminate wasteful or unnecessary spending.

To fix the affordability crisis, we developed a long-term reform plan to put and keep our state on track. We looked at programs that were slated for huge increases in aid with no apparent justification.

When we dug deeper, we found these murky programs were full of waste, inefficiency and abuse — often documented by members of the governor’s own administration.

The programs were scaled back to find $1.32 billion in savings that could be spent on New Jerseyans’ priorities, not the State House’s.

We restored $525 million in property-tax relief. This includes $375 million that Gov. Corzine cut from the property-tax rebate program and $150 million in municipal aid cuts that would have resulted in dramatic property-tax increases. The cuts would have been borne only by people in small towns, regardless of the residents’ incomes.

We also proposed dedicating $500 million in permanent funding for state transportation projects, eliminating the need for any of the governor’s proposed toll or gas tax hikes.

Approximately $100 million will be set aside as a surplus or to pay down debt. The remaining $195 million will be used to help restore aid to vital programs the governor proposed cutting, including funding for hospitals and nursing homes, elimination of a proposed co-pay for Medicaid recipients, and restoration of higher education assistance programs for the most deserving scholars in the state.

We aimed to suggest cuts that were fair to everyone. The governor dismissed us out of hand. In doing so, he is putting his support behind programs that have been shown to be laden with pork for the politically connected.

We urge him to take another look. We’re ready to work with him and any member of the Legislature who thinks that an affordable New Jersey is more critical than reward ing the politically powerful.

We also urge the governor to champion our long-term reform proposals to make Trenton more accountable. They include caps on the growth of spending, voter approval of all debt and a two-thirds super-majority vote of the Legislature to raise taxes. We’d grant citizens the power to propose their own reforms through initiative and referendum.

We also propose reforms to bring state pensions and benefits more in line with those of the private sector. We take aim at the pension fraud and abuse reported over and over in the state’s newspapers.

Finally, we’d jump-start the economy and create jobs with an economic development plan that would make it far easier for businesses to get help and grow.

This common-sense strategy would make New Jersey more affordable and state government more accountable. We have listened to New Jerseyans. We think we have come up with a way to help citizens get more of what they want from government.

Learn more about our common-sense plan. And Sign The Petition. >

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean represents the 21st Legislative District. Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce represents the 26th Legislative District.

Advertisements

Here’s our Brilliant Gov: NJ struggling- $33B debt, can’t pay transport. projects, struggling to keep state parks open, cut municipal aid, BUT… lets give $589K to Stemcyte to hire 7 more employees. Can we please just fire him NOW??

Also… did you know that New Jersey lawmakers and Corzine approved $270 million to build five stem cell research facilities in the state – money that they were somehow able to borrow without voter permission.

Very enlightening article by our friends at inthelobby.net

May 2, 2008

Our governor is a man who is committed to his causes.

He gave Democrats some $652,000 last year –nearly $563,000 to state Democrats and $89,000 to Democratic congressional candidates. In 2006, Corzine gave $869,000 to Democrats and party organizations. Since entering politics in 2000, he has donated more than $8 million to state and federal candidates.

He is a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton. (Except when he’s describing the scenarios by which he thinks she should drop out of the race.)

He gave $500,000 to Save Our State NJ, which is his public relations front group that was created to help him sell his 800 percent toll hike plan.

He sent $200,000 to a group that was promoting last year’s ill-fated bond issue to borrow $450 million to hire staff and fund research at the five stem cell research centers the governor hopes to build around the state.

All of these were done with his own money, which is fine. He can spend his money however he wishes, on whatever causes he wishes.

What’s not so fine is when state money somehow winds up funding his pet causes.

So there Corzine was Thursday, hailing the decision by StemCyte Inc., a California-based stem cell research firm to open a New Jersey office with five people, which they say may someday grow to 12 employees.

To help spur this job growth, the governor touted the fact that this firm would receive some $589,000 in state grants, through the Business Employment Incentive Program, which basically is a program that rewards companies that create jobs.

In other words, we’ll be paying this company about $80,000 a person every time they hire one of the seven new employees.

Probably a good chunk of the salaries the company will be paying these folks.

“It does seem questionable to be writing checks to companies that are going to hire 12 people when you’re cutting higher education and can’t pay for transportation,” said Jon Shure, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective.

Seriously.

Listen, this company may be a great investment. But when the state is struggling to find money to keep parks open, and is cutting homestead rebates, that $589,000 sure seems like an awful lot of money to be sending to one firm that is creating just 7 new jobs.

Especially when the state has lost about 10,000 jobs so far this year.

But we have another question.

We all know that our governor can be a bit, well, shall we say tone-deaf politically about causes and people he believes in. (Read Javier Inclan and 800 percent toll hikes.) That if he says something is on the up and up, then he thinks no one should doubt otherwise. That he doesn’t see conflicts of interest involving himself, because, in his mind, he apparently thinks he has no conflicts.

So, is it too cynical to ask whether the governor’s enthusiasm for stem cell research was one of the deciding factors in giving this company a grant?

Voters resoundingly rejected the stem cell research bond issue. From all accounts, the governor was severely disappointed in the defeat. And, apparently, in this case, he counting on the fact that he doesn’t think “No” really means “No.”
“I intend to revisit this issue,” Corzine said at Thursday’s press conference.
“We haven’t crossed that bridge yet. It is in an overall context that we have to look at where we are with regard to revenue growth and the comfort with which we can address additional debt. I don’t think that’s going to be so long.”
Hello?

Did we read that right?

Here he is, trying to soak us all for an 800 percent toll hike over 14 years because he said our debt is strangling us.

And yet, he can’t wait to go out and bond for another $450 million for stem cell research?

“…We have to look at where we are with regard to revenue growth and the comfort with which we can address additional debt. I don’t think that’s going to be so long.”

He doesn’t think that will be that long? But aren’t we supposedly more than $30 billion in debt? And isn’t the only debt reduction plan out there his 800 percent toll hike plan, which is supposed to be politically dead?

Read the rest RIGHT HERE

Corzine Cosa Nostra hard at work: DEP Deputy Commissioner (who?) ponders corporate support for parks

The Corzine Cosa Nostra is hard at work.. remember the toll hike fiasco and the Save the State toy organization Corzine funded to help push the deal? Do you remember who the spokesperson was? That’s right – Jennifer Godoski.. Here‘s that article

So how does one go from chief of staff for Commissioner of Transportation to Spokesperson for Save our State to Deputy Commissioner of DEP? Well – if you’re a Corzine insider – anything is possible.

Oh – and here‘s the DEP article about the parks…

WSJ: Corzine Hits a Speed Bump

New Jersey isn’t usually considered exciting news. But it wouldn’t have hurt the national media to pay a bit more attention to what happened recently when Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine tried to sell the public on the largest borrowing scheme in American history.

Mr. Corzine’s motive was the looming disaster in the state’s public-employee retirement costs. As in other states, New Jersey politicians for years have promised government employees lavish retirement packages but failed to put aside money to fund them. The unfunded liabilities are far in excess of a trillion dollars nationally.

New Jersey faces one of the worst crises. The state pension plans cover not just state employees, but also teachers and law-enforcement personnel at the county and local levels. When the former CEO of Goldman Sachs was elected governor in 2005, he seemed uniquely qualified to address the problem, thanks to his grasp of finance.

Unfortunately, he also had a grasp of politics. And the politics of the Democratic Party require that benefits for public employees be expanded, not reduced. Ever since the New Deal, Democrats have embraced a trickle-down theory on public-employee benefits. The public employees get gold-plated benefits first, and this creates pressure on private employers to eventually match those benefits for their workers. As union leader Carla Katz told me, the Democrats embrace “the progressive theory that unless you create a substantial wage and benefits package that reflects good jobs and the ability to have a middle-class life style, there will be a perpetual race to the bottom.”

Ms. Katz is the New Jersey state president of Communications Workers of America, which represents thousands of state employees. She’s also the ex-girlfriend of the governor. Eyebrows were raised when her ex-squeeze addressed a Trenton, N.J., rally of about 10,000 public workers in 2006 and yelled, “We will fight for a fair contract!”

We? Apparently, no one told the governor he was in management. And at the time, management was being pressed to make the sort of changes that could have cut the pension burden, such as raising the retirement age and putting new hires into the public version of 401(k) plans.

Mr. Corzine rejected those reforms. That left him looking for money to make up unfunded liabilities of an estimated $25 billion for the pension fund and $58 billion for post-retirement medical benefits. Politicians in other states had sold their toll roads and gotten billions. And as toll roads go, New Jersey’s are among the busiest in the country. Mr. Corzine put up the idea of a sale as a trial balloon. The unions shot it down. But the governor came back with another trial balloon, this one based on a bond sale the size of the Hindenburg.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Wall Street Journal article

 

Corzine (Cosa Nostra) Toll Panel Is Rich with Special Interests

The Record – By Elisa Young

A 54-member panel chosen to “educate the public” about Governor Corzine’s financial restructuring plan contains a mix of administration loyalists and veteran Trenton insiders positioned for a piece of multibillion-dollar highway spending. (Here’s a link to the “Who’s Who” on the panel

Three of the members — including the chairman — are principals or affiliates of New Jersey’s top three lobbying firms. They represent engineers, raw-material industries, financial companies, resorts and utilities — all with potentially something to gain from a proposed $11 billion in road projects.

Ten of the appointees have some connection to Alliance for Action, a construction advocacy group that promises its 600 members “excellent opportunities to network with New Jersey’s public and private leaders.” Three other appointees — top executives with Verizon, Trump Entertainment and Public Service Electric and Gas Co. — have seen their businesses benefit from legislation Corzine has signed or initiatives he has endorsed.

READ THE REST HERE

CLICK HERE to our friends at Liberty and Prosperity to see what the gang of 54 look like

As if we weren’t already ticked off about Corzine’s Toll Hike Scheme, wait till you read about the $500k a month he’s still spending on it…

Yep – that’s right! Our Jersey Republicans recently unearthed that our beloved Financial Genius of a Governor has spent $4 million on legal fees to firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meager and Flem (I mean Flom) – likely another member of the Corzine Cosa Nostra).

READ THE REST

HOLY COW – PIGS REALLY DID FLY! Corzine’s Fiscal Restructuring Agenda: Shift From Near Dead “Toll Hike”, To Budget Reduction

The governor conceded Thursday that his toll road plan has little support and that he may have to settle

According to three lawmakers, Tuesday’s Budget presentation is going to call for a $250 million budget reduction in likely response to the Governor’s “almost dead” toll hike scheme (Trenton finally heard our LOUD VOICES!!!)

READ IT HERE