Shurely a Bad Sign

Seems the Governor thinks that Rutgers is giving New Jersey a bad rap.

Recently, RU Professors Seneca and Hughes released a study purporting to show that substantially more people were leaving New Jersey for other states than were moving in from other states. When they left, they took billions in economic activity and deprived the state of almost $700 million in tax revenue. Lots of folks, understandably, asked why NJ has become a state from which people wish to flee rather than one to which they wish to relocate.

Not to worry, says NJ Policy Perpsective, Jon Shure’s leftist "think" tank. NJ’s real problem is not that taxes are too high, regulations too stringent, governmental spending outrageous, the debt through the roof, or the economy flat, but that we don’t build enough taxpayer-subsidized housing.

Right.

The Governor thought enough of this "rebuttal" to send it to every Legislator. That’s not a good sign. If Hizzonor accepts the views of this entity – essentially, that NJ is such a wonderful place to live and work that people will happily pay confiscatory taxes for the privilege – the chances of getting the kind of reform he repeatedly promises (you know, "risking his job" to get the state back on sound fiscal footing) is essentially zero.

Worried about taxes chasing people away? Pshaw, says the leftist author. Between 2001 and 2005, state income grew by 15%. Everything’s great, right?

Well, no, actually. In just one year, from 2003-2004, federally reported AGI grew 9.4%, meaning that NJ lags far behind the rest of the county. And given that inflation between 2001 and 2005 jumped almost 13%, that means that NJ real incomes increased by a pathetic 2% over those years. Not much reason to crow.

The author avers that 24 states are losing population to western and southern states. But most states don’t count Pennsylvania and Delaware as "western". Sure, some states offer meteorological advantages enticing sun worshipers to abandon NJ for warmer climes. But Bucks County gets more snow than we do; hence, the building boom there, fueled by NJ refugees, requires an explanation other than Florida beaches or Arizona sunscapes.

Losing citizens? Who cares, asks the author? We attracted more than 350,000 foreigners over the same time period that we lost a quarter-million Americans. But a substantial portion of that influx arrived without permission; depending upon what statistics one accepts, up to 400,000 illegal aliens call NJ "home". We maintain our population only because people come here illegally to take low wage jobs, while imposing huge burdens upon the state for education and health care.

Well, lots more folks are paying the "millionaires’ tax" – Jim McGreevey’s apparently incurable fiscal STD – so things can’t be that bad, right? Believe it or not, there are still places which make NJ look almost sane, tax-wise; NYC for one. How many of those jobs are actually NJ based, as opposed to NY? And how many of those "millionaires" got clocked with this confiscatory tax upon the sale of their home preparatory to escaping our once-fair state, the Democrats’ final insult to people who shake the dust of this state from their sandals and move "south and west"?

Well, one might find a job here in NJ, no? We boast the lowest unemployment in the region. But we owe much of that employment growth to the inexorable expansion of government. Taxpayer-funded employment (which, in large measure, is the problem, not a solution) keeps clipping along – 7,300 new jobs last year and an estimated 8,200 this year – but private sector positions grew at an anemic .8%. Any wonder taxes continue to increase, and people continue to flee?

So, silly you; you thought that absurdly high taxes, outrageous spending, and the prospect of a massive debt time-bomb exploding under them, might persuade productive people to relocate somewhere else. When, all the time, the only problem with NJ is a lack of "affordable housing" and massive governmental spending on transportation projects!! NJ simply needs "… an honest look at our priorities and how to pay for them …" That is to say, a big tax hike. That’ll work, for Shure.

Our priorities should be cutting spending, slashing taxes, reducing the number of governmental employees, paying down the debt, reforming pension and health benefits, and "… maximiz(ing) the advantage of New Jersey’s location" by making us, once again, a frugal, freedom-loving state, to which AMERICANS wish to move rather than one they strive to escape. With those priorities, we won’t have to worry about "paying for" them; they come free.

And if The Guv is serious about effecting true reform, the first thing he should do is repudiate the entire platform of NJ Policy Perspective, which calls for massive tax increases on productive folks (e.g. increasing the income tax to 7.67% at $250K, sucking another $400 million out of the pockets of already oppressed earners) while increasing governmental spending on … everything. Following that kind of advice produced our present, disastrous state of affairs.

So, instead of trumpeting (and distributing) an Op-ed piece from a group advocating for higher taxes, more spending, and bigger government, the Governor would do well to heed the silent testimony of a quarter-million now-absent American citizens, and do precisely the opposite. Shurely a Bad Sign