New Jersey governor Jon Corzine is touting the fact that by signing the budget today, he “became the first Governor of New Jersey in over six decades to reduce, two years in a row, the size and cost of state government.”
Except that he really didn’t have too much choice in the matter, as the state is facing a “historic tax-revenue collapse” and the state constitution requires a balanced budget. And the revenues started plummeting in the first months of the budgetary year last year.
And while the current budget does include some spending cuts, it also makes up the gap with $2 billion in federal stimulus money and raises taxes on wine and hard liquor, tobacco, and top earners. Oh, and if you win the lottery, the state is now taxing those winnings, too.
In light of all that, Corzine seems less like anything resembling a common-sense fiscal conservative than a man whose hand has been forced by the state constitution and a deep recession.
The man who seeks to unseat Corzine, Republican Chris Christie, released the following statement regarding Governor Corzine signing the FY2010 budget today in Trenton:
Today Governor Corzine once again showed that he has no problem standing behind a budget that contains $1.2 billion in taxes, leaves behind a $10 billion deficit and ensures that 1.2 million taxpayers won’t receive a property tax rebate. The tough decisions this budget passes on to hard-working New Jerseyans is a stark reminder our governor is unable to manage state finances or keep control of state priorities. This budget is not a victory, but a brutal setback for our struggling economy and middle class families.
That $10 billion deficit figure comes from calculations that include rising expenses in medical care, unemployment insurance, and employee raises, not getting another $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money next year, the need to pay at least $2.5 billion into the state worker pension fund, $1 billion in tax increases that are scheduled to expire next year; $600 million in tax amnesty revenue; and $500 million in temporary property-tax rebate reductions.