By Doug Steinhardt
Groucho Marx said, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” You would think he spent time in Democrat controlled Trenton in 2019.
Governor Murphy and Democrat legislative leaders are locked in a war for power, not ideas. Their victims aren’t the career politicians or political bosses whose excesses have snarled State government, but rather the millions of New Jersey businesses and residents they serve.
Ideological diversity is crucial for good government. In its absence emerges the sort of single party rule that is paralyzing Trenton; where warring, Democratic factions race to control your tax dollars, instead of compete to find ways to return those dollars to you.
The State’s budget deadline is looming. Adopting it is one the fundamental functions of state government. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, current, Democratic proposals consist of billions of dollars in new spending and the myriad tax increases that support them. Even after an unexpected surge in tax revenue, there is no movement in Democratic controlled Trenton to return any of those dollars to you. We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
As I’ve said before, difficult problems don’t always require difficult answers. Start simply and slowly, but act decisively. Impose on state government the same 2% spending cap that State government imposed on municipalities. Tackle pension and health care reforms head on, recognizing the crisis, and enacting changes that do more than just “stop the bleeding.” Then, promote economic growth smartly, by cutting income, property, and corporate business taxes, rather than smothering growth by raising them.
Instead, Democratic leaders are steering state government swiftly toward a shut down. Their inability to work together on even the most mundane policies is unsustainable.
The fact is, single party rule is failing New Jersey. While Democrats investigate each other, families and business are leaving or, even worse, losing their jobs, homes and hope.
I’m not asking New Jerseyans to turn their state government upside down and drop it on its head. I have a more measured ask for voters: give Republicans a chance. The entire State Assembly is up for election in November, and we have a solid slate of qualified candidates with honest answers to the State’s real problems. Split control of Trenton and put people in charge who will challenge the status quo and offer a conservative check and balance to the current, progressive stalemate. I promise you, we can’t do worse.
DOUG STEINHARDT is chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party (NJGOP).