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Jon Corzine, asshat

Who didn't see this coming? New Jersey's Jon Corzine has proposed a series of tax hikes to fund his new $30.9 billion budget, which is 9% larger than the previous year's.

Spending cuts are few, far between and paltry in this budget, so Corzine plans to rely almost solely on tax hikes to close the existing gap. This includes

  • An jump in the sales tax from 6% to 7% (more than a 16% increase)
  • An expansion of items that are subject to the sales tax
  • A 2.5% "surcharge" on corporations
  • A 30-cent per pack hike in cigarette taxes

Oh wait, I forgot! When I said that Corzine was too timid at cutting spending, that wasn't completely fair. I neglected one very important item -- he's reneging on the property tax rebate he campaigned on. That will be scaled back significantly.


Sorry, but it beggars belief that one of the most heavily taxed states in the union (first in property taxes, and well above the national average for both sales tax and income tax) can't enough fat to trim in the budget to avoid a whole slew of additional tax increases. This is particularly outrageous and insulting given New Jersey's well-known reputation for waste and corruption.

The problem is, of course, that tackling waste and corruption is hard. It's much easier just to dig deeper into taxpayers' pockets. A household or a corporation wouldn't have that option available. They'd simply have to budget themselves better to close a deficit. Governments, however, have the unique ability to simply vote themselves a higher income, thus sparing them the tough choices the rest of us have to make. I can't say I'm surprised by this, but that doesn't make it right.

And how tough a choice should it be, anyway? New Jersey's tax revenues have risen by an average of more than 8 percent annually since 2002. I know if my household income increased by 8% every year I'd be doing pretty damn well. You'd think that such an increase would be sufficient for Trenton to stem the red ink even if they didn't have the stomach for budget cuts, right? Guess not. The Garden State has still managed to far outpace this increase with additional spending. There's no excuse for that.

If Corzine truly doesn't know where to start saving money, he could find out where to start just by reading today's Wass Street Journal.

The last thing people want to hear in a high-tax state notorious for political corruption is that their tax dollars are being mismanaged. But according to a two-year probe of school superintendents by New Jersey's State Commission of Investigation, that's exactly what's going on in Tony Soprano country. No wonder there's a property-tax rebellion brewing there as in many places around the country.

The report -- "Taxpayers Beware: What You Don't Know Can Cost You" -- sampled 71 of New Jersey's more than 600 school districts and found a pattern of "questionable and excessive" practices that included boosting salaries and padding pensions surreptitiously and in ways that have cost unsuspecting taxpayers millions of dollars. A school chief in Ocean County was paid nearly $350,000, or 65% more than he reported to the Department of Education. A Camden official received $223,000, which included $43,000 in undisclosed bonuses, car expenses and an annuity. And a Bergen County superintendent received more than a half-million dollars in extra pay for unused sick time and other benefits.

According to the report, if these perks were disclosed at all they were in the minutiae of contracts rather than in reported salaries. "If a school board wants to pay a superintendent $300,000, fine," wrote the Newark Star-Ledger, a paper that typically favors higher taxes and spending. "But taxpayers shouldn't be told the salary is $200,000 and given no clue that the total package makes the compensation 50 percent higher."

I'm not holding my breath, though. Given the Democratic hegemony in New Jersey, I think Corzine will get all the tax hikes he wants, no one will be required to belt-tighten, and it will be business as usual.

Yep, my new governor sucks. So does my new senator, for that matter. The only real improvement is my representative, who has gone from being Bob Menendez to an empty chair.


How is it that NJ--with a sales tax, income tax, corporate tax, numerous business and licens fees, toll revenue, port revenue, casino gambling money, state lottery money, and so on--is so goddamned broke every year?
Governors past and present--Republican and Democrat--and state legislators past and present--both parties--should be indicted for Enron-style fiscal mismanagement to the detriment of the stockholders (the state's residents).
For one, why wasn't the state pension fund filled in the "good years" of the Whitman Era? Now, the pension fund is deep in the hole and needs to be filled quickly.
These people are corrupt clowns, and they keep getting re-elected every election. We get waht we deserve.
As for the rebate, it's all bullshit. Property taxes and state taxes go up, up, up, then the state sends us a small little check, as if that makes up for it. It don't!

Property tax rebates never work, even when they are implemented.

The municipalities have grown to expect a certain level of $$$ from this. Rather than cut costs, they will cry out to Trenton, Albany, whatever and the poobahs will reimburse them by raising taxes.

The problem is that towns are never really pressured into cleaning up thier acts because of this.

true in some respects...but my town for example: about 80% of their annual budget is mandated spending (sewage fees, health insurance, contracts, fire and cop pension contributions, debt svc.). Meanwhile, state aid has been frozen pretty much since 2001. And these costs keep on rising. The state keeps imposing unfunded mandates on towns, so its the local officials who get their asses kicked by residents while the schmucks in Trenton keep on getting re-elected.

one example: good intentions...new stormwater management regulations so that additional crap doesn't go into the water stream. That means, i.a., that leaves to be collected each fall can lay in gutters for more than a few days. So now towns have to collect things on an expedited, compressed schedule (with existing manpower) or farm out some of this task (which costs money). State assistance? Zilch.

I feel for you Barry!

Corzine may well prove WORSE than the once despised Governor Florio who busted the budget over there after Tom Keane left office.

I've always pulled for Brett Schundler, the Libertarian/Republican that turned Jersey City around....apparently too sensible a choice for the Garden State.

it's an amazing phenomenon that in recent years every incoming governor has to deal with his predecessor's fiscal schmuck-ups: Kean with Byrne; Florio with Kean; McGreevey with Whitman and now Corzine with Codey/McGreevey. Kind of odd in a way that Whitman didn't inherit a fiscal nightmare when she came in.

Fred wanted to know why this state is so goddamned broke all the time?

Try looking at the 55 cents we get back for every dollar in federal taxes we pay in. We get less return on our federal investment than any other state in the country.

Try writing to your representative and ask why. I have. Repeatedly. And while Scott Garrett is perfectly willing to say that yes, he does agree with Karl Rove that all liberals are terrorist sympathizers, he has never once gotten back to me on the question of the fifty-five cent return. Imagine that.

> Try looking at the 55 cents we get back for every dollar in federal taxes we pay in. We get less return on our federal investment than any other state in the country.

I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I get back exactly zero cents for every federal tax dollar I pay, no matter which state I live in.

Yeah Jill, it's the feds fault, at least while a Republican's in the WH.

What was NJ's excuse while Carter and Clinton were in the WH???

It couldn't be that NJ has been one of the most corrupt and badly mismanaged states in the country, could it?

Problem is, surrounded by states as wantonly depraved and corrupt as NY & Conn, a lot of folks in the Garden State probably figure NJ's at least "no worse than most."

Sadly, those who believe that are woefully misinformed...in truth, "They're no worse than the very worst - the most profligate and mismanaged states."

New Jersey politics is as crooked as a dog's hind leg. The voters of New Jersey have the government they voted for- and no one to blame but themselves.

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