Gov. Chris Christie: The Reform Agenda – Changing Course in NJ
An EXCELLENT piece up at RCP by Governor Christie, must read. Highlights:
(…) I feel an obligation to stand up and do what the people elected me to do, which is to get our government under control, and to start to reduce the amount of money that people have to pay to the government in taxes.
But if all we do is cut, and we don’t get at the underlying problem, we’re just going to be back in this spot year, after year, after year….
On the cornerstone of the plan the 2.5 cap, first property taxes:
…We can’t increase municipal aid, increase aid to school districts, and increase property taxes without end. At some point, the people’s ability to pay runs out.
And now we’re there.
With property taxes up 70 percent in ten years, people in New Jersey are now voting with their feet, and they’re leaving….
First and foremost, we have to impose discipline on every level of the political system. I propose that we start with Cap 2.5, a constitutional amendment to cap property tax increases at no more than 2.5 percent per year….
The ‘pathetic’ response that we cannot cut:
…But anyone who comes to this discussion talking about “you can’t cut this” and “you can’t cut that” who doesn’t have some way to pay for it besides jacking up property taxes is just joining that pathetic, 30-year tradition of passing along the problem for the next guy to deal with….
Capping the spending at the same level:
..Fundamental fairness dictates that the other part of the constitutional amendment has to be that discretionary state spending-state spending outside debt service or aid to municipalities or school districts-has to be capped at 2.5 percent as well….
How government spending squeezes out private jobs:
…Consider this fact. In 2009 we lost 121,000 private sector jobs in New Jersey, while the municipal and school board payrolls grew by 11,300 jobs.
The private sector shrank… while the government grew. That’s exactly backwards from how it’s supposed to be….
The Big Kahuna – ‘The Toolkit: Collective Bargaining Reform’
…Arbitration is there to be sure that these things are fairly resolved-and the key word there is “fair.” More often than not these decisions are favorable to labor, but they’re not always fair to the taxpayers who have to pay whatever the arbitrator decides.
So under collective bargaining reform, every arbitrator will have to take into account Cap 2.5. They will no longer be allowed to award a benefit that’s larger than that. For the first time, arbitrators will have to consider not only who’s sitting at the table in front of them, but also who pays the bills….
The Closing Argument – Standing up for NJ Families:
…After three decades of passing the buck, we’ll cap increases in property taxes that are wrecking people’s lives and driving people out of our state, and we’ll give local leaders the tools they need to help control the underlying expenses.
We’re going to build a solid fiscal foundation for our state. We’re going to say “No” to those who refuse to understand that the days of something for nothing are over and the days of shared sacrifice are here.
We’re going to stand up to the entrenched, special interests that are unused to having the truth told to them without regard to the political consequences.
We’re going to stand up for the future of our children and grandchildren-a future in New Jersey that is hopeful, optimistic and full of opportunity and prosperity in a private sector that is growing and a public sector that stops the annual grab for the taxpayers wallets.
The legislature needs to put Cap 2.5 on the ballot this November as a constitutional amendment, and let the people do what the politicians in Trenton have refused to do for 30 years: get out-of-control property taxes under control and, at long last, fix this perpetual fiscal crisis, once and for all.