New Jersey Gov't Shutdown by Liberal Governor Seeking Tax Hikes
by Jim Kouri, CPP
New Jersey's pride and joy of a governor, Jon Corzine, told Jerseyites on Saturday that he decided to shutdown all but the most critical agencies of state government. He also laid-off about 46,000 workers after failing to get the legislature to approve a sales tax hike before a budget deadline expired on June 30. About 30,000 state employees will continue working, but without pay.
That's right, one of the richest politicians in the US is sending people to the unemployment line because he wasn't being allowed to raise taxes on a state that's running neck and neck with Louisiana when it comes to systemic corruption.
While past Jersey governors have had difficulty balancing their budgets and getting their state legislatures to agree on an annual budget, Corzine's move is the first time New Jersey's government has even been partly shutdown because a budget was not approved by the end of the fiscal year. The Democrat governor, who is negotiating his first budget, used his emergency powers under the Disaster Control Act to send all nonessential state workers home.
Had a Republican used a disaster act to shutdown government for tax purposes, the New York Times and other news media would be squawking about an expansion of power, since the Disaster Control Act is meant for -- well -- disasters. It wasn't meant for a liberal governor to throw a snit because he's being prevented from raising taxes.
In addition, during the busy 4th of July holiday weekend, Atlantic City's casinos may face being closed down since Mr. Tax Hiker deemed the state employees who are required to oversee them to be "nonessential workers."
The state lottery will cease selling tickets and racetracks are expected to close although they might follow the lead of the casinos and ask a court for a stay that would allow them to remain open, according to Kathleen Crotty, the executive director of the Democrat-led Senate.
Complaining that the state senate budget talks had dragged on for 102 days, Corzine, a former US senator, said in statement: "We have taken every reasonable and responsible measure to ensure that this day wouldn't come." As a Corzine observer, I've noticed that when bearing bad tidings, he uses the pronoun "we;" when bearing glad tidings, his favorite pronoun becomes "I."
State Treasurer Bradley Abelow on Friday appeared before the Democrat-led Assembly (there are no conservatives in New Jersey's government), and said that Jersey was one of only a few states that has not to improved its finances. He chided the prior Democrat governors for relying on "fiscal gimmicks." That governor stepped down when it was discovered he installed his "boyfriend" as the state's director of homeland security.
Although the US economy has been growing for four years, Jersey has a $4.5 billion budget gap.
Corzine, upon taking office in January 2005, began to break his promises (surprise) one at a time. He sold himself to the voters as a fiscal conservative and promised taxpayers lower taxes and business incentives to bring higher-paying jobs into New Jersey. In fact, when it came to taxes and spending, Corzine ran to the right of Republican Doug Forrester.
Following the lead of Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who promised upstate New Yorkers 200,000 new jobs without delivering, Corzine promised -- but has been unable -- to attract businesses to leave New York and other states and setup shop in The Garden State, bringing with them jobs and prosperity to the state. What company owners are going to take a chance on someone who's always talking about raising taxes?
In the midst of high gas prices, Corzine floated the idea of raising the state's gas tax which is already one of the highest in the nation. He decided against it when his staff reminded him of another liberal governor -- Jim "Flim-Flam" Florio -- who immediately raised taxes when he took office, and four years later voters sent him packing by electing a liberal Republican, Christine Todd Whitman.
A grass-roots anti-tax group -- Stop the Taxman -- has already targeted Corzine after they learned that he had proposed a staggering $1.5 billion increase in direct taxes and another $300 million in what he termed revenue enhancements.
In a press release, they wrote:
"[Gov. Corzine's] plan to impose higher taxes on almost everything is OUT OF CONTROL (from drinking water to health care, no matter what you do the Governor wants to tax you!). What's even crazier is that the Governor also wants to INCREASE SPENDING by 9 percent at the same time he raises your taxes!
"The Governor's math just doesn't add up. For instance, he wants to generate millions in new tax dollars by raising cigarette taxes, but the last three tax hikes on cigarettes in New Jersey have all fallen short of expected revenues. If the Governor has his way, New Jersey residents will PAY MORE and will still be facing outrageous deficits.
"Voters were heartened when, during his campaign in 2005, Corzine stressed, 'I'm not considering raising taxes. It's not on my agenda. We have a very high-rate tax structure. I'm not considering it.' Voters elected him with a 239,280-vote margin over his Republican opponent Doug Forrester, and five months later (in March) Corzine added during his budget address that 'tax increases are a last resort.'
"Thus, Garden State voters might have been a bit startled when Corzine proposed a massive $1.8 billion tax increase (including $1.5 billion in direct taxes and over $300 million in other revenue enhancements). New Jersey previously had the ignominious reputation of a tax-hiking state, but the new budget makes even the most die-hard revenue raisers blush."
Why do people continue to be surprised when a liberal politician raises taxes? What should surprise many Americans is the fact that a majority of voters in New Jersey and other states still believe that a liberal Democrat won't raise taxes even when they say they won't raise taxes.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.