State Senator Joe Kyrillos is the frontrunner for the U.S. Senate nomination.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is vulnerable as he faces his first re-election, but similar to Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), he still does not have a top tier GOP challenger. This is a Blue State which will be difficult for any Republican to win in a presidential election year when turnout is far higher.
The President defeated Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in New Jersey by a 57% to 42% margin, and the state is still regarded as an Obama stronghold. Continue reading
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) is announcing his retirement today, which means the awful Russ Feingold could come back to inflict more damage on our national security. Continue reading
Editorial Note: Freshman Congressman John Adler (D-NJ) and three of his colleagues were rebuked yesterday by a unanimous vote in the House Democratic Caucus. Adler was joined by Reps. Gary Peters (D-MI), Jim Himes (D-CT) and Peter Welch (D-VT) and they were seeking to eliminate $1.4 billion in spending which had been placed on top of President Obama’s budget request. Continue reading
For the past 180 days, no other state capital has matched the excitement and change of Trenton, New Jersey. On his 6th month anniversary this week, Gov. Chris Christie (R) expressed gratitude for the reforms which have been enacted and promised to bring “even more change” in the future. Continue reading
The battle for New Jersey begins on Thursday. After three months of town hall meetings where he aggressively campaigned for budget cuts and his reform agenda, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) this morning called the Democratic state legislature into special session.
Christie has already closed half of the state’s $11 billion budget gap. Now he is asking for a 2.5% property tax cap along with 33 proposals to help local governments cut taxes and reduce their budgets. Over 200 Mayors including liberal Cory Booker (D-Newark) are backing the Governor’s reform package, and it is also supported by 67% of NJ residents.
Christie says he may be a one term Governor, but NJ can no longer remain the nation’s number one high tax state. In every town meeting he reminded residents that taxes are going up again this year because of the legislature.
The Governor is also seeking a Constitutional amendment on this November’s ballot which would stop property tax increases. It would force towns and schools to scale back salaries and benefits of their unionized workforces. It would create permanent change by making future tax increases dependent on a public referendum.
It would have to pass the legislature by July 7th to make it on to the November ballot. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) met with the Governor this morning and said:
He wants us to be in session every day until July 7th. He can force us into special session but he can not force us to vote on his measures. We will give his proposals a hearing but the Constitutional amendment is not going to be on the ballot this year, because it’s not realistic or reasonable.
Sweeney says voters should trust Democrats to do the right thing. Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D) was in the same meeting and told the press the special session is an example of Christie’s arrogance and it will not be productive. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D) says “The Constitutional cap is out.”
Tom Moran of the Newark Star-Ledger says after Christie’s unexpected victory in cutting the budget, “Democrats are retreating in chaos. They stumble through the hallways of the capitol like a defeated army, complete with grousing about their generals.”
“We have not found our footing,” said Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D). “I think a lot of people underestimated Chris Christie.” Gov. Christie says the state can no longer continue with business as usual where spending on schools and public employees keeps skyrocketing.
He wants them to cut back on administrative costs, salaries and benefits. Public employees do not pay for their health benefits, but Christie wants them to pay 1 to 1.5%.
Christie says lower and middle class working families have had to cut back while public employees have been exempt. He also says wealthy residents have been fleeing the state for years. The Governor says “This is the moment. This is it. We’re in the middle of a crisis.”
PHOTO: New Jersey has the highest tax burden in the nation, and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) wants to slash the state budget. In response, public employees have declared war on his administration.
While most Americans were enjoying the Memorial Day weekend, the state of New Jersey went to war. President Barbara Keshishian of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) declared war on Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) on behalf of all public employees. The NJEA President is outraged because the Governor has proposed a 2.5% cap on future salary and benefit increases.
In March an NJEA teacher said Christie should die, and Keshishian visited the Governor’s office to apologize. The Governor asked if the teacher had been fired. When Keshishian said no, she was thrown out of Christie’s office. In her war declaration, Keshishian said: Continue reading
PHOTO: New Jersey residents are the nations most heavily taxed. They are near the top in income, property, sales and corporate taxes. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is attempting to change that.
One of the most important legislative battles in the nation is now occurring in New Jersey. This is the height of the state budget season and a balanced budget must be produced by June 30th. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is attempting to slash spending and stop the growth of public employee salaries and benefits.
He also wants to limit annual property tax increases to 2.5 percent. Last year Christie defeated incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) who spent over $30 million on his re-election campaign and President Obama made four trips to the state on behalf of the Democrat.
The Governor needs 21 votes in the Senate and 41 votes in the Assembly to pass his reforms. This will be difficult because Democrats are the majority party in both Houses. In the Senate there are 23 Democrats and 17 Republicans. There are 47 Democrats and 33 Republicans serving in the General Assembly.
Voters would also have to approve a property tax cap. To assist his effort in passing the reforms, Christie is attempting to hold town hall meetings in every county. He is telling citizens that state pensions and medical benefits are going to be a huge structural liability for many decades. He is also describing his plan to fire 7000 state workers (the exact number hired by his predecessor), and he may have to cut staff salaries by 20%. The real problem is not salaries, but the generous pension benefits.
The Governor is one of the few politicians who has the courage to take an unpopular stand against public employee unions. He promised to do this during last year’s campaign, and has begun a meaningful discussion on what the state can not afford.
He has offered specific proposals on how to cut government spending, and plans to ease New Jersey’s tax crush. The Christie plan includes pension reforms, requirements for public employees to contribute more toward their benefits, and a two-thirds legislative supermajority for all future tax increases. Decades ago New Jersey was ranked the number one state in the nation for economic growth, but those days are long over.
Spending ballooned after passage of a state income tax. Corzine was elected in 2005 with a pledge to cut property taxes by 40%, but they ended up being increased by 20%. He left office with an almost $10 billion deficit, and Christie said New Jersey is a prime example of what happens when liberals have complete control of a state government. To his credit, Corzine now admits there was “reckless borrowing,” and says “Let’s call it like it is: Everyone’s property taxes are too damn high.”
Now that he is in the Governor’s office, Christie has signed an unprecedented executive orders to freeze and cut spending. He has revoked funds from local school districts, hospitals and NJ Transit and declared a “state of fiscal emergency.”
The Governor wants to force more than 500 school districts to spend their surpluses in place of state aid. He repeatedly tells town hall meetings that the state is on “the edge of bankruptcy. We must come to terms with the fact that we cannot spend money on everything we want. The days of Alice in Wonderland budgeting in Trenton end.”
A recent Rutgers University study demonstrated that many upper income people have left the state since 2004. The Wall Street Journal explained this, “So what happened in 2004? The study doesn’t purport to explain what caused the wealth movements. But the state’s most notable economic policy event that year was an increase in its top income tax rate to 8.97% from 6.37%, on incomes starting at $500,000. That’s a 40% increase.”
Jim Hughes, a dean at Rutgers University, says “The tax the rich solution that we often hear has only resulted in a significant decline in the state’s wealth. We’ll probably see a continuation of the trend, until there are no more high-wealth individuals left.”
Christie’s message is that the state needs lower taxes to lower unemployment, and he wants to provide hope for the over 500,000 NJ residents who are unemployed. He says “Private-sector jobs are going to be created by giving our entrepreneurs more of their own money back. The tax cut I propose is one that provides more money to small business.”
Can He Accomplish Anything With a Democratic Legislature?
In most states there are significant limits on what a GOP Governor could accomplish if they were confronted with a hostile state legislature. In California, the Republican Governor and the legislature are at a standstill. Republicans claim all they can hope for is the death of bad bills an government expansion. There is a big difference between California and New Jersey. The Garden State has one of the most powerful chief executives in the nation. Christie is able to rewrite legislation and cut spending with the stroke of his pen. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wishes he had that ability.