A few years ago I recall seeing a man standing on the steps of a building speaking at a union rally. The union was in the middle of negotiations with the employer. The man was shouting his support for the union cause to wild cheers. Together we will win a fair contract, he shouted.
That man was Jon Corzine, the governor of New Jersey and he was addressing a rally of public employee unions. Do I need to point out that the governor was supposed the be representing the employer; in this case the State of NJ and its taxpayers? His actions were representative of the relationship between public employee unions and (mostly Democratic) politicians.
As usual, among the key labor issues were pensions and benefits. Those benefits then, before and today are considerably more generous than the average taxpayer in the State enjoys.
The results of the mishandling of these issues long before and after Corzine are with us today. Now Christie is blamed and criticized for not funding state worker pensions as was committed to. But that criticism rarely considers the consequences. Where will the money come from? Nevertheless, State workers receive wide-spread support for getting more money.
Ah, the simple answer as always; raise taxes. Don’t fix the problem, just raise taxes and continue on your merry way.
Should we consider that New Jersey is already the highest taxed state in the U.S. or that it is among the least friendly states for retirees or that ever higher taxes will drive individuals and business out of the State? In fact, except for foreign immigrants, the State’s population growth is virtually zero and the State Senate has called for an investigation of why businesses are leaving New Jersey (as if we didn’t know)?
The corporate tax rate is 9%, among the highest in the Country. The NJ sales tax is 7%, the second highest in the U.S. Property taxes are the highest in the Nation at 2.11% of property values and also number 1 at $2,989 per capita. New Jersey has both an estate and inheritance tax (one of only two states) with the lowest exemption at $675,000. NJ’s debt per capita is $7,215 the fifth highest among the fifty states.
New Jersey and some other states are good examples of the consequences of promising more and more with neither the ability nor incentive to pay the price, but rather pushing the day of reckoning down the road. The lack of personnel stability in government allows individuals to make promises and be on their way in a few years. It allows legislatures to make commitments which are ignored or changed in the future.
The more grand the promises, the more serious the consequences. Voters should keep that in mind when being subjected to election rhetoric.