If you read the Carpetblogger, you’d hear him pine for the leadership of New Jersey Governor Christie for making the “tough choices” by balancing the State budget “without raising taxes.”
However, Steve Lonegan, the NJ State Director for the conservative Americans for Prosperity New Jersey, writes:
Underneath the hype that cocoons Christie’s budget is the fact that it grows state government by more than 6 percent – more than double the proposed 2.5 percent cap on local governments.
Beyond the rhetoric of phantom “spending cuts” is the fact that there are no layoffs in the bloated government payroll that exploded under the direction of Govs. Christie Whitman, James McGreevy and Jon Corzine. Every entitlement program is not just in place, but expanded. Property tax relief to suburban and rural taxpayers is reduced by an astonishing $2.56 billion.
The budget adopted by the Legislature in June of 2009 was $29.8 billion. The Christie budget spends $28.3 billion. Where’s the $11 billion cut?
The cut appears to be $1.5 billion, but where does it come from? Some $840 million of the cut comes from property tax relief in the form of school aid to primarily suburban school districts. Another $420 million comes from cuts to municipalities. And $1.3 billion in property tax rebate checks are eliminated.
In other words, Christie did it mostly by denying planned tax relief. When Ted Strickland froze the income tax rate and delayed the final phase of planned income tax cuts (that were never paid for), Jon Keeling called it a massive tax hike. When Christie did it, he called it bold leadership.
However, Lonegean goes on to point out:
“Beyond the rhetoric of phantom “spending cuts” is the fact that there are no layoffs in the bloated government payroll that exploded under the direction of Govs. Christie Whitman, James McGreevy and Jon Corzine. Every entitlement program is not just in place, but expanded.
“Under this budget, state government grows at three times the rate of inflation. No departments are eliminated. No departments are consolidated. All bureaucrats remain in place and the central planners are in their glory.”
Unlike Christie, Strickland has actually cut the size of State government and cut overall spending in state government. He’s the first Governor in Ohio modern history to actually cut government spending.
As for Christie not “raising taxes,” that, too is a lie. According to the Associated Press, the Christie budget will “adds levies on businesses, students, the elderly and the disabled.”
Lou Greenwald, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, said the budget was “loaded with tax increases” for average New Jerseyans.
“Unfortunately, the pain is coming and it will be real and it will be immediate,” he said. “You’re staring down a tax-laden budget that puts all the pain atop working class New Jerseyans, seniors and disabled households and the poor.”
Christie had trouble within his own party shoring up support for the tax and fee increases that provide the underpinnings of the budget.
On Monday, he shored up support for the proposal by rescinding an increase in the fees businesses pay to apply for partnerships or file annual reports. Sen. Tony Bucco, a Republican, said an overbudgeted payroll account would be tapped to make up the $5 million in revenue.
So much for the idea that Christie shows a model for John Kasich. Instead of reforming State pensions, Christie’s budget calls for no state contributions, thus kicking the can down the road for the next budget fight.
From a fiscally conservative standpoint, Strickland beats Christie hands down. What’s even further ironic is that the same conservatives who attack Ted Strickland for delaying tax relief and raising fees government charges for services are chanting “Christie for President ‘12!” for doing, well, the exact same thing.
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