New Jersey voters repudiated Governor Jon Corzine's policies of the past four years on November 3rd. Republican Chris Christie and Independent Chris Daggett received nearly 55% of the votes cast.
The anti-Corzine voters played it safe on Election Day, pulling the lever for Christie instead of Daggett who had a "plan" to lower property taxes by widening the sales tax.
The Christie campaign effectively demolished Daggett's candidacy in the last two weeks of October with a series of commercials, and his support plunged like a rock in the days leading up to November 3rd.
To bolster New Jersey's economy in 2010 governor-elect Christie will have to rein in the overspending, onerous taxes, and unnecessary regulations that have made New Jersey one of the least business friendly states in the nation. In short, Christie has to restructure New Jersey's state government and overhaul the state budget so entrepreneurs know they will not have to shoulder the burden as individuals and as business owners/managers to pay for the state's irresponsible spending.
Christie must order his transition team to draw up a plan to decentralize. In other words, some state government functions have to be streamlined, some have to be abolished and some have to be returned to counties, municipalities, communities, families and individuals.
This is the list Christie's transition team has to develop immediately. If Christie has less than a total commitment to a much leaner state government, a less costly state government, and ending unfunded state mandates on municipalities, he will have lost the opportunity to turn New Jersey's economy around.
The governor-elect's first priority should be to decentralize education decision making, control and funding. With the Abbott school districts receiving the bulk of the Property Tax Relief Fund, aka as the state income tax, there has been no property tax relief in the suburbs. The income tax experiment has failed miserably and it is time to abolish the income tax.
And yes, the New Jersey's Supreme Court Abbott decision has to be overturned quickly or ignored. Christie can issue an executive order asserting that the state's financial condition requires that the education spending mandates ordered by the Court are no longer possible. Ultimately, the Property Tax Relief Fund should be abolished by amending the state constitution.
(The New Jersey State Constitution clearly states that education spending shall be determined by the Legislature, not the courts. Period. Article VIII, Section I, paragraph 5 amended effective December 2, 1976 states: No tax shall be levied on personal incomes of individuals, estates and trusts of this State unless the entire net receipts therefrom shall be received into the treasury, placed in a perpetual fund designated the Property Tax Relief Fund and be annually appropriated, pursuant to formulas established from time to time by the Legislature, to the several counties, municipalities and school districts of this State exclusively for the purpose of reducing or offsetting property taxes.)
In a decentralized New Jersey, funding for the Abbott school districts would no longer primarily come from state taxpayers but from local tax sources. This is the "deal" Christie should promote. All state sales taxes and other taxes that are collected in the designated Abbot districts would remain there and would replace the state income tax funds now supporting the state's urban school districts. The urban school districts therefore would be responsible for raising the funds to pay for their schools.
Decentralizing education is the necessary first step to reduce taxes and spending in New Jersey
Decentralizing education is the necessary first step to reduce taxes and spending in New Jersey. State auditors could oversee the transition to a decentralized education system.
If Christie continues the redistributionist/egalitarian tax-and-spend policies of the past, he will be ignoring the reality of the unsustainable costs of the Abbott decision and continuing to support the proposition that urban residents are not responsible for raising-and paying-for their children's needs. This is the essence of the welfare state, not only in New Jersey but throughout the nation.
In short, the implosion of the welfare state is occurring right before our eyes, but the statists in both parties are oblivious to the financial debacle that is now unfolding.
Christie has been given the mandate to "fix" New Jersey for the next four years. New Jersey needs a proven fix; it is called decentralization.