The Dirty Little Secrets of the Ballot Questions

By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist

“If at any time, (sales tax) funds necessary to meet the interest. . .??& principal payments on outstanding bonds issued under this act are insufficient . . . there shall be assessed, levied?& collected annually in each of the municipalities of the counties of this State, a tax on the real and personal property upon which municipal taxes shall be assessed. . .”

This fine print is found in Section 21 of the 12 page $450 Million “stem cell research” bond statute.? (Ballot Question #2)
??????????? The same language is found in Section 27 of the 15-page statute that would borrow? $109 million for?”conservation and recreation projects” like parking lots, indoor gyms, fishing piers, boathouses, docks, stadium lights, etc.;? $73 million for private farms and commercial flower gardens;???? $12 million to “acquire” land along selected North Jersey rivers (by eminent domain if needed); and $6 million for? “historic” buildings like Wildwood’s 1950’s motels and?the Margate elephant, a total of $200 million.? (Ballot Question 3)

??????????? See details at

??????????? The State Senate voted 26-9 to borrow the $450 million last June.? The Assembly voted 50-27.?? Republicans Sonny McCullough and FrankBlee, and Democrats Van Drew and Whelan voted ?Yes.?? Republican Nick Asselta and Democrat Nelson Albano voted ‘No’.

??????????? The Senate agreed to borrow the $200 million by 34-0.? TheAssembly voted 77-3.? All local Republicans and Democrats voted ‘Yes’.?? But this money can?t be borrowed unless most of you also vote? ‘Yes’ on November 6.

??????????? Why do both bond laws have this back-up plan for a new state property tax??? Many Wall Street bankers think that New Jersey governmentwill go broke within the 30-year life of those bonds.

??????????? Moody’s Bond Rating Service downgraded New Jersey bonds three times since 1992.? Governor Corzine gave the reasons in his last budget message.?? Between 2002 and 2006, New Jersey balanced its budget with $16 billion in one-shot gimmicks.? Republicans and Democrats failed to put money in the pension funds, the “monetized” future payments from the tobacco settlement, and they raided the Unemployment Insurance “Trust” Fund.

??????????? New Jersey’s bonded debt increased from $8.1 billion in 1996 to $30 billion today.? Much of this debt was legally approved by the voters as our state constitution requires.??? But other debt, like Democrat Governor McGreevey’s $8.6 billion school construction fiasco, was incurred by the state Economic Development Authority (EDA) WITHOUT voter approval.

??????????? Last July, Governor Corzine announced that New Jersey owed $58 billion for? free lifetime medical benefits for retired government employees, but that no money was set aside for it.? And New Jersey has a unique pension system, where there is no connection between what employees pay into the system and how much they get when they retire.? When the pension funds crashed with the stock market in 2001, the Republican controlled legislature and governor INCREASED all pension benefits by 9%!

??????????? Because of this, Governor Corzine ordered all counties, towns,and public schools to raise property taxes, and put an extra billion dollars? into the pension funds this year.??? Corzine never said the total amount needed to balance those funds.? As baby boomers retire,? I bet those unfunded debts are at least $20 billion!

??????????? And there is one more problem.?? Although the State collects $8.4 billion in sales tax money each year, big chunks are earmarked tospecial funds like Urban Enterprise, Open Space, Neighborhood Preservation, Shore Protection, Tax Rebates, etc.?? If you vote ‘Yes’ on Ballot Question#1, a half-billion dollars more of that sales tax money will be diverted to a “Property Tax Reform” slush fund controlled by Trenton Democrats.

??????????? New Jersey government will take in and spend about $33 billion this year.? Its $108 debt is more than three times its yearly income.

??????????? I am a lawyer, and I and my partner do a lot of personal bankruptcies.?? When a client making $33,000 a year has debts of $108,000, that client ends up in bankruptcy.? The doctors, hospitals, credit cardand finance companies all get stiffed.

??????????? If New Jersey government files bankruptcy, thousands of holders of the EDA “gimmick” bonds will get nothing, while holders of voter-approved bonds and? retired government employees will probably get about 30% to 40% of what they were promised.

??????????? But if you vote ‘Yes’ on these ballot questions, the new state property tax will guarantee payment in full for everyone who buys the new tax-free “Stem Cell Research” and “Open Space” bonds.

??????????? Where is the outrage?

  • Seth Grossman

    Seth Grossman is executive director of Liberty And Prosperity, which he co-founded in 2003. It promotes American liberty and limited constitutional government through weekly radio and in-person discussions, its website, email newsletters and various events. Seth Grossman is also a general practice lawyer.

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