Photo by PressOfAtlanticCity.com. Today’s Press reports that seven years of massive tax hikes in Atlantic City finally paid roughly half of the illegal half billion dollar debt approved by former GOP Gov. Chris Christie between 2010 and 2017. Click here for full Press of Atlantic City Article: Atlantic City about halfway to easing debt burden | Local News | pressofatlanticcity.com
In 2010, Republican Chris Christie became Governor of NJ, and Atlantic City had a big financial crisis. It lost 2/3 of its tax base because it lost its East Coast monopoly on casino gambling. The only solution was for Atlantic City government & public schools to cut their budgets by laying off employees and cutting salaries. Both had bloated budgets because nobody cared about spending during the casino boom. However, in 2010, Gov Christie had ambitions to run for President.
Christie’s chief rival at the time was Gov Scott Walker of Wisconsin. At that time, gov. Walker took on public employee unions and succeeded in cutting taxes and spending. However, every teacher and public employee union in America targeted Scott Walker for destruction. The first political riots and “insurrection” took place at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin in 2011.
There was only one way Gov. Christie could get Atlantic City out of its budget crisis without public employee layoffs and cutbacks. There was only one way for Republican Chris Christie to be adored by Democrat union leaders. That was to force taxpayers to borrow massive amounts of money until he became President. That was of course blatantly illegal. New Jersey has a very strict Local Budget Law and Local Bond Law. All local and school budgets must be balanced. Towns and school districts can only borrow money for buildings, roads, and equipment. They cannot legally borrow money for salaries and operating expenses. In 2010, Governor Christie took over Atlantic City’s finances.
For the next seven years, Christie approved illegal budgets where Atlantic City borrowed roughly $80 million dollars each year for salaries and operating expenses. This was in blatant violation of New Jersey’s bond and budget laws. It gave Atlantic City, a town of 40,000 people, a debt of roughly a half billion dollars! This debt caused such massive tax hikes that even the casinos couldn’t afford them! As a result, the state created a convoluted system of tax breaks that left only 36% of Atlantic City properties paying at the full rate. Many Atlantic City home and business owners have been taxed out of their homes and businesses. Many were forced to turn their properties into illegal B&B’s to survive.
Atlantic City government is not ideal. It has no more or less “waste, fraud and abuse” than any other town in New Jersey–or state government. There was and is only one reason why Republican Gov. Chris Christie had state government take over Atlantic City’s local government in 2010. There is only one reason why Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is still running Atlantic City government today. Gov. Christie took over to approve the illegal borrowing of a half billion dollars from Wall Street. Gov. Murphy wants state control of Atlantic City until that illegal debt is paid in full.
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Seth Grossman, Executive Director