By Matt Rooney
Study after study (most of which we share here at Save Jersey) confirm our state’s terrible fiscal condition, Save Jerseyans.
It’s certainly not for lack of high-earners; on that front, we remain one of the wealthiest states of the union. But Trenton’s chronic mismanagement over the course of the last few decades is creating a problem so massive in scale and daunting on the numbers that the current crop of politicians’ half-measures and symbolic gestures are worse than useless.
Here’s what George Mason University concluded just a week ago:
“On the basis of its solvency in five separate categories, New Jersey ranks 48th among the US states for fiscal health. New Jersey has between 0.93 and 2.44 times the cash needed to cover short-term obligations. Revenues only cover 89 percent of expenses, with a worsening net position of –$798 per capita. In the long run, New Jersey’s negative net asset ratio of 2.98 points to the use of debt and large unfunded obligations. Long-term liabilities are higher than the national average, at 388 percent of total assets, or $18,928 per capita. Total unfunded pension liabilities that are guaranteed to be paid are $272.54 billion, or 49 percent of state personal income. OPEB are $85.42 billion, or 15 percent of state personal income.”
Our total annual debt service is already about $4 billion.
That phrase may not do this dire situation justice. Let’s get a little more graphic: New Jersey is an accountant with a cocaine problem who earns $150,000 a year but owes $500,000 to the credit card companies and another $500,000 to various creditors and some aggressive bookies, too. Yeah, it’s bad. Real bad. Making difficult, unpopular decisions is the only way home (without losing any of our fingers or selling an organ on the black market). You get the “point,” and hopefully you’re pardon the pun.
Enter this year’s state-wide public ballot question #1, a measure which… drum roll, please… DOUBLES DOWN on the bad choices of the past 30 years. This is the text:
Do you approve the “Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act”? This bond act authorizes the State to issue bonds in the aggregate principal amount of $500 million. The money from the sale of the bonds would be used to provide grants to schools, school districts, county vocational school districts, and county colleges. Money from the grants would be used to build, equip, and expand facilities to increase career and technical education program capacity. Money would also be used for school security upgrades and school district water infrastructure improvement projects.
Let’s talk about our ‘Children’s Future’ for a moment, because we know almost every awful thing that comes down the pike from our government is excused as being “for the children.”
Bonds = debt, folks, and that is such a reckless decision at this phase of our history that the original proposal (for a cool billion dollars) was HALVED by Governor Phil Murphy, one of America’s most radical liberal governors, citing our preexisting debt burden. Yikes! When Phil thinks you’ve gone too far…
This reckless effort to add $500 million in principal to our debt load is nevertheless “bipartisan.” Of course.
Remember: the legislation authorizing the question passed WITHOUT Republican opposition in both chambers.
The bill was co-sponsored by none other than Democrat Senate President Steve Sweeney (an ironworker labor leader for many years) and his ally, Republican Senator Steve Oroho of Sussex County (the force behind that gas tax hike which keeps going up), whose last reelection effort was heavily subsidized by Big Labor cash.
Both men can be expected to do what the trades union leaders believe is best for them (e.g. tons of new taxpayer-financed jobs subject to the prevailing wage), but not necessarily what’s best for ALL of our children who, assuming they want to stay in New Jersey (many do not), can’t afford to have their futures mortgaged any more than they already are which is a LOT.
Sorry, gents: incurring another $500 million (plus interest) in debt is a luxury of states which (1) aren’t financial basket cases and (2) have politicians whose priorities and allegiances aren’t hopelessly compromised by special interests. We also can’t forget that our state’s budget continues to balloon (total government spending in New Jersey grew by about $2.8 billion between 2015 and 2016 alone, and that was under a GOP governor), so NO EFFORT has been made to cut spending or reallocate funds to free up the cash for school improvements. The politicians are hitting New Jersey taxpayers up for more money since it’s easier than doing their jobs.
Yet even if the money WAS lying around somewhere in the State House, it doesn’t really matter how wonderful our on-ramps and vo-tech water fountains look if no one can afford to live here, and our tax load is already getting us to the “no one can afford to live here” fork in the road.
And ultimately? There’s never going to be a convenient time to scream “SORRY, ENOUGH!”
It might as well be now. Time is not on our side.
Vote NO on November 6th.
Your “no” vote is a vote for New Jersey to have a future.