By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
A daily newspaper in Atlantic County reported last month that Chris and Danny retired and moved to North Carolina to avoid high taxes in New Jersey.?? When they bought their modest Egg Harbor City home in 1976, the couple paid $530 a year in property taxes.?? This year, they paid $5,300.?? They now pay one fourth that amount on their new home which is twice the size.
Chris and Danny are not alone.?? Last year, 72,000 people left New Jersey, costing us roughly $680,000 million in lost tax revenues.?? That comes to two thirds of last year’s 17% sales tax hike!
Who could blame them for leaving??? New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, and ranks third in total taxation.?? And things will get worse.?? Governor Jon Corzine says we are “legally and morally committed” to pay $105 billion for state debts and pension obligations, and billions more for 100,000 units of union built “affordable” housing, free pre-K daycare in every public school (built and staffed by union members), and the $450 million stem cell research package that was just voted down.
That’s why Corzine says we have to sell, lease or hock our toll
roads.?? But do we??? Let’s take a closer look at Chris and Danny.
??? Both said they can’t afford NJ taxes on their? “fixed incomes”.?? But their “fixed incomes” are in fact very generous NJ pensions with yearly COLA’s (Cost of Living Adjustments).?? Chris used to work for the county, and her husband worked for a state college.?? Their pension income is based on their three highest years-not what they paid into the system.?? Both also get “free” lifetime? medical care from NJ taxpayers.
But no money was set aside to pay for much of those benefits.
Before the 2001 election, both Democrat and Republican legislators gave all NJ government and public school employees (and themselves) a big 9% pension hike,? even though the stock market was crashing.?? Later, they gave “free” lifetime medical benefits to government retirees.?? No money was set aside to
pay for any of this.
Those same legislators also used New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) to borrow billions of dollars without a vote of the people.
According to Article 8, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the New Jersey State Constitution, none of these “debts” or “liabilities” are legally binding on us.
“The Legislature shall not, in any manner, create in any fiscal year, a debt or debts, liability or liabilities of the State, which together with any previous debts or liabilities, shall exceed at any time one percentum of the total amount appropriated by the general appropriation law for that fiscal year (1% of $33.5 billion or $335 million). . . unless the same shall be authorized by a law. . . submitted to the people at a general election and approved by a majority of the legally qualified voters of the State voting thereon. . . ”
Governor Corzine took an oath to support and defend this Constitution.?? He has a moral and legal duty to ask the voters of New Jersey to approve the $91 billion of debts and liabilities (including pension liabilities) illegally incurred by past politicians of both parties.
If the people approve that debt, Governor Corzine can go ahead and sell or hock our state highways, our forests, our beaches, and everything else the state owns to pay them.?? But if the people vote “no”, he must repudiate all of those illegal debts and liabilities.
??? We will soon see where Governor Corzine’s loyalties are.?? Are they with the people of New Jersey and the Constitution designed to protect us??? Or will he try to cover up for his old Wall Street buddies who put these illegal debt deals together-and made Corzine the billionaire he is today?