Folks, the FY 2015 budget debate will conclude – or at least reach its climax – when Governor Chris Christie signs/line-item veto(es) the legislature’s work product, presumably sometime between now and the 4th of July.
This episode has shown us one thing: we need to cut some budget fat, or we are going to be doing this dance again and again, year after year. Not one-time stuff, either; we need permanent cuts that are going to last and result in permanent savings.
Here are four of my own for your kind consumption as Governor Christie weighs his options. Because, as I recently pointed out, a millionaires tax is not going to solve our woes. This isn’t a comprehensive list; I do not claim to have all the answers, but it’s my hope that, by reading this, decision-makers’ old thinking caps powered up….
This past week, the New Jersey state Senate and Assembly both passed the “Opportunity to Compete Act,” which prohibits businesses with more than 14 employees from asking applicants to check a box to indicate whether they have been convicted of a crime. Additionally, businesses would be prohibited from asking first-time interviewees if they’ve been convicted of a crime.
It has been reported that NJ Governor Chris Christie’s office worked with the legislators on the language of the bill; thus, Christie is expected to sign the bill into law.
New Jersey’s $34.1 billion FY 2015 budget stinks for a host of different reasons, Save Jerseyans, all of which we’ve discussed here at Save Jersey including a measure that ADDS new members to the imperiled public benefits system, and we’ll continue to hope that Governor Chris Christie surprises us and uses his veto pen liberally but, for now, here’s a clip of Asm. Jay Webber (R-Morris) who did a solid job of summarizing where Democrats (and his own GOP) went astray from the floor on Thursday:
The parent company of Atlantic City’s 1,331-room Showboat Casino, where the popular music venue ‘House of Blues’ is located, reportedly plans to layoff 2,100 employees on Friday, Save Jerseyans, the first step towards closure.
Competition from other nearby casinos and a city-wide steep drop in gaming revenue from out-of-state competition (40% since 2006) are the major factors, though the Showboat did remain profitable which is more than we can say for many other casinos down there.
One of those in-the-red nearby casinos at a less-than-busy end of the legendary A.C. boardwalk is the Revel which is set for auction in August despite substantial financial assistance from the State of New Jerseytaxpayers of New Jersey. Oh, if Nucky could see his Empire now…
Please keep the Showboat employees in your prayers. They’re victims of a bad business model artificially propped-up by politicians 2 hours away on the other side of the state. The only good that can come of this mess is if the existing casinos get their collective act together and voters learn a hard lesson about the inadvisability of corporate welfare.
The sponsors could’ve just as easily named A2035/S927 the ‘Memorial Day Parade Float Act,’ Save Jerseyans. Car dealerships exercise considerable influence in state politics attributable to their sheer numbers and significant presence in our local communities. It’s a $22.7 billion, 35,000 member industry with a considerable ability to help campaigns and, of course, provide that gratis convertible rental for the candidates’ parade participation. Hence, my proposed alternative name above.
A woman protests Governor Christie’s pension payment walk-back at his 6/25/14 Haddon Heights Town Hall (photo credit: Alyssa LaFage)
I thoroughly enjoyed attending my first Christie town hall in a long time on Wednesday, Save Jerseyans, though to be 100% honest with you, the pall of a budget battle palpably hung heavily over Governor Chris Christie’s 122nd such gathering hosted at an elementary school in suburban Haddon Heights.
Still, the Governor’s opening comments to the 300-ish attendees were less optimistic and upbeat than usual - the fictional Marty McFly might’s said “heavy” – and the tenor of the day’s discussion didn’t get too much more chipper from there on out despite his best attempts to mix in a little humor (and he did get some laugh lines as per usual). Also noticeably absent were any of the Governor’s situational allies in the South Jersey Democrat Machine; only Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. was in attendance, a staunch support of police consolidated backed by the Administration, but he politely got up and left half way through the event.
No Steve Sweeney, nor Dana Redd, nor Donald Norcross (even though Heights is in his district).
A sign of the mood 45 minutes north on I-295? Christie was stoic, sober yet undeniably fatalistic about the next steps in the choreographed budget drama. “…[the Democrats] passed yesterday a whole bunch of these taxes in committee,” Christie explained, providing a little background for his audience. “I assume they are going to pass them tomorrow in the full senate and assembly.”
THIS is how sad it’s getting in Trenton, Save Jerseyans.
The following blurb from our AFP-NJ friends’ post-Assembly budget vote release caught my eye: “If reports are true, only Asm. Cryan and a few others in the Democratic caucus opposed this tax-hiking budget. We commend Asm. Cryan for pushing for a 4% across-the-board cut in the budget[.]“
Scratch that, Save Jerseyans. Why do Democrats and newspaper editors, aka Harry & Lloyd, our friends from Dumb and Dumber, ALWAYS ignore the facts of this argument? I’m getting sick and tired of the facts staring them right in the face and then, instead of responding to logic and reason, they lie to our faces. When they say that people do not leave, that people do not flee a state when they institute a millionaires tax, grab a fire extinguisher, aim it at their pants and get ready to pull the pin.
Wealth flees, Save Jerseyans. Wealth flees. And here is what the FACTS tell us what happens when a state, any state, raises its millionaires tax.
That’s not honest. It isn’t what’s actually on the table in Trenton this morning. A better term would be the “Arbitrary and Capricious Tax.”
This is Senate President Steve Sweeney’s plan to save New Jersey’s budget, as articulated by his office to the media:
(1) 10.75% tax on “millionaires” generating $565 million (2) 10.25% tax on the $500k – $1 million group generating $155 million
There’s plenty of way to come up with these funds by cutting rather than taxing, but as I reminded you earlier this week, folks, el Presidente doesn’t care whether it adds up. This is a political maneuver, not a product of good faith nor good math. Never forget that; otherwise, you’ll destroy your scalp as you scratch it from now until the end of days.
Revel is heading back to bankruptcy court for the second time in just two years, according to sources familiar with the filing. The perpetually troubled casino allegedly can’t meet its quarterly property tax obligation to Atlantic City and it is warning employees of dire consequences as soon as August:
“Revel sent out a statement saying they’re looking for a new owner and will do so through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And the company gave its 3,100 employees letters warning they’ll shut down and could be out of work as soon as August 18th if there’s no buyer.”
The boorishly unimaginative Trenton Democrat caucus wants to “balance” New Jersey’s FY 2015 budget – without compromising promised pension payments – by raising taxes on the people who pay the bills. Senate President Sweeney’s competing budget proposal includes a millionaire’s tax (again); whether it’ll work isn’t up for debate since EVERY bit of objective evidence verifies that high taxes catalyze out-of-state migration.
You can’t tax ghosts, Mr. President. You can destroy jobs AND your tax base by convincing ghosts to haunt another lower-tax state. It’s never worked before and there’s no reason to think this time is different. “We have seen the suffocating impact of high taxes on the middle class families who have suffered as jobs moved away,” Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) very correctly declared on Wednesday afternoon. “The state’s economy cannot sustain additional pressures on employers who have other options. Many of them can and will decide to create jobs in other, more welcoming states if these irresponsible, short-sighted proposals are actually enacted.”
And you know what? I think Steve Sweeney knows it’s true….
Well folks, it looks like we’re going to have another fight on our hands akin to last year’s minimum wage hike. This time, the Democrats in the legislature are looking to push a paid sick leave policy onto employers across New Jersey.
The outline of the proposed legislation mandates that employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave (for their own sickness or to care for loved ones) for every 30 hours worked. So, employee burden will jump by 1/30th. Add in some administrative overhead for tracking the accrual and other compliance costs, and let’s round that to 1/25th or 4% (probably a conservative estimate). This doesn’t even consider the impact of the provision that allows unused sick days to rollover from year to year (although public employee style retirement payouts thankfully aren’t allowed).
So, Trenton, who’s going to pay for this, huh? I think the most obvious choice will be… the employees.
Chief among them is former NJ GOP Chairman and political “rising star” Jay Webber who’s never afraid to challenge the status quo. “We shouldn’t be providing these massive subsidies to people who are doing incredibly well,” Webber tolod NJTV on Friday. “These corporate subsidies, this corporate welfare, you’re taxing the guy who works at the gas station; you’re taxing the school teacher; you’re taxing the cop. You’re taking their money and you’re sticking it in the pocket of the owners of the 76ers.”
A few months ago, I received a visit from someone who had come to re-evaluate my home for the purposes of imposing “appropriate” property taxes. The evaluator asked if I had granite countertops and a finished basement; I welcomed him in and showed him my 35 year-old kitchen, sans granite, and asked if a newer kitchen would affect my taxes. His reply, “Of course.”
This is why I must state my opposition to the method of imposition of property taxes. When someone undertakes a home improvement project, they pay the township for permits, which brings income to the town. Additionally, the project itself costs the homeowner money for materials and labor, which is obviously good for the local economy, as jobs are created and maintained. Further, the state levies a sales tax of 7% on the money spent on material and labor, so again, the government gains revenue. In fact, a $20,000 kitchen remodel will generate at least $1600 for permits and sales tax.
Tax abatements remains hugely controversial, Save Jerseyans, and they’re back in the news because of recent activity in Camden and Jersey City. Interestingly, unlike many of the issues raised here at Save Jersey, there isn’t a clear consensus on either side of the aisle. For example, right-of-center thinkers can’t agree; Americans For Prosperity (see below) is often found in opposition whereas other actors (including some folks over at The Heritage Foundation) have lauded tax credits with helping spur economic development.
Learn more about it and draw your own conclusion as to whether the cost is worth it… it is, after all your money:
Two voices from the political right are letting their opinions be heard on the subject, Save Jerseyans, and both are strongly opposed to the 110,000 square foot Philadelphia 76ers practice facility on the Camden waterfront.
Why? Because it’s being subsidized by $86 million in tax credits from the Economic Development Authority
“Governor Christie states that we have an $800 million budget shortfall” State Sen. Mike Doherty said in a characteristically-direct statement. “Then why is New Jersey providing an $82 million gift for a billionaire?”