By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
Some folks liked what Republican Gov. Chris Christie said inhis speech to legislators in Trenton two weeksago and at his “Town Hall Meeting” show last week in Vineland.
But I didn’t hear what the governor was saying because I wastoo busy looking at what he was doing.
During the past two years, Christie borrowed and spent likea Democrat ? and raised tolls and local taxes to pay for it. He frozeprincipled conservatives like Steve Lonegan and Mike Doherty out of hisadministration. He used tribal affiliation (sex, race, ethnicity and sexualpreference) rather than merit to fill key positions. He rewarded the worstpay-to-play Democrats in the state with contracts, appointments and otherspecial deals that increased their power and allowed them to clobberRepublicans in the 2011 legislative elections ? then bragged about hisbipartisanship. He failed to enforce immigration laws and did almost nothing touncover and prosecute political corruption.
Is Republican Gov. Chris Christie doing a great job? Or ishe a pathetic fool (or brazen swindler) like Democrat Jon Corzine? Let’scompare on a few key issues.
State government debt
The Panic of 1837 was an economic collapse caused bypay-to-play politics, aka public-private partnership, and out-of-controlborrowing by state government. That’s why New Jerseyadopted a new state constitution in 1844 that made it illegal for stategovernment to borrow money without a vote of the people. But starting in the 1960sRepublicans and Democrats used gimmicks and loopholes to incur roughly $160billion worth of debts and unfunded pension obligations without voter approval.
Democrat Jon Corzine recognized that this was a big problem.But his “solution” was to pay down this old debt by selling the Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike and AtlanticCity Expressway for $38 billion and then raising tolls by 800 percent.
The Republican governor doesn’t think this is a problem, andhas no solution. His “pension reform” was a joke, because it only applies tonew hires and does nothing about baby boomers who are about to bankrupt thepension funds.
New Jersey had nosales or income tax until Democrats gave us the 3 percent sales tax in 1966 andthe 2 percent income tax of 1976. Republican governors took the sales tax to 5percent and the income tax to 3.5 percent. “Evil” Democratic Gov. Jim Floriotook the income tax to 7 percent in 1991; then “good” Republican Gov. ChristineWhitman only took it down to 6.37 percent in 1996 ? still almost double what itwas before. Most economists agree that New Jersey’sexpensive government and high taxes are killing jobs in this state.
Corzine shut the casinos to get the sales tax up to 7percent. He then set up various “public-private partnerships” so that selectedbusinesses with good political connections got taxpayer-funded, low-cost loansand tax breaks.
Christie kept Corzine’s 7 percent sales tax hike in placeand increased parkway and turnpike tolls by 50 percent. Lincoln and HollandTunnel tolls jumped to $12. Like Corzine, Christie also gave taxpayer loans andtax breaks to selected businesses like the Revel Casino.
Christie now wants a 10 percent income tax cut. This isanother sick joke.
All income tax money goes to the state’s Property Tax ReliefFund. Two-thirds of that fund pays for schools in 32 of the 586 towns in thestate. In two years, Christie failed to change that deal. So any cut in theincome tax just means even less state money ? and higher property taxes ? for Republicantowns and suburbs.
In the past 30 years, bad and very political rulings by theNew Jersey Supreme Court allowed $160 billion of state debt without voterapproval, forced billions of state money to bail out Democratic politicians in32 mismanaged towns, and forced low-income housing into every town. Christiecould have turned this around by picking three strong, principled conservativesfor the Supreme Court. But he used tribal affiliation, not merit and principle,to make his picks: a woman, an immigrant, and one justice who is both black andgay.
Under Democrats McGreevey, Codey and Corzine, New Jerseygot the fourth-highest electric rates in the country by forcing utilities topay $600 every time solar panels and windmills produce $60 worth ofelectricity. But Republican Christie wants us to pay even more ? by buildingeven more solar panels, and windmills in the ocean.
In his speeches, Christie brags that he is doing a great job,just like Corzine did.
(Reprinted from February 1, 2012 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/20692-christie-borrows-and-spends-like-a-democrat.html?)
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