Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Christie: State Workers Pay So Millionaires Will Stay

Remember when Chris Christie's reelection was supposed to herald the coronation of a politician who could reach across the aisle, make deals with the Democrats and solve New Jersey's fiscal problems, all while simultaneously running a campaign for president?

November seems so long ago.

The Governor's signature accomplishment, the pension and benefits bill of 2011, did not, in fact, solve the solvency problem, and his singular failure, not being able to stimulate New Jersey's economy, is wreaking havoc with his budgetary priorities. All along, Christie has held the line against revenue increases and has stated repeatedly that the only fix for the dire fiscal straits New Jersey finds itself in is for him to renege on his promise to make a full pension payment and for public workers to pay more for their health care and retirements.

So naturally, the emboldened Democratic majority in both houses of the Legislature is feeling its oats and yesterday both Senate and Assembly Budget Committees approved budgets that include new revenue from those making over $500,000 per year and new taxes on businesses. Of course, Christie has promised a veto, saying that higher income earners would leave the state in droves rather than pay higher rates. Never mind that there's really no credible data to back up that claim. Yes, you can find some evidence of flight, but even this report's authors admit that:

...while the paper goes into a detailed argument on why tax migration makes financial sense, it states at the beginning that "this paper does not provide proof or hard evidence that high income and/or high net worth residents are leaving New Jersey because of high taxes."
The real truth is that Christie seems to be concerned about the hardships millionaires might face, but he perversely seems to accept hundreds of thousands of public workers seeing more money coming out of their paychecks in pension and healthcare costs without the means to sell their leveraged homes and move to states that have made their pension payments. Many state workers will see their actual take home pay decrease over the next three years. It's no wonder the economy has been very slow to recover in New Jersey. When people have less money to spend and have to worry about saving enough to make up for any shortfalls in what the state can provide for pensions, then people spend less. The Governor wants them to pay more. And this guy wants to bring his agenda to the nation. Terrible.

We have one week of brinkmanship to go before the July 1 deadline for a balanced budget. I doubt the legislature will shut down the government, but any deal will require some compromise from both the legislators and Christie. Meanwhile, like the other state workers following this horror story, I'm holding on to my wallet.

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  1. Karma takes too long, and this slippery weasel is smart enough not to go down with his own ship.

  2. Ultimately he will need to defend and run on his economic policies. The scandals are extra.