Originally created 07/08/06

Tax-and-spend government at work



Even though your state taxes have been raised time and again, the state is still taking in billions of dollars less than what government leaders want to spend. So they have a bitter budget quarrel - not about cutting spending, even though they were elected on promises not to raise taxes again, but about which taxes to raise and how much.

The quarrel gets so heated that the governor shuts down nonessential government services. One of those "nonessential" services is provided by government regulators who oversee a thriving private sector business which, aside from taxpayers, is the main source of the state's revenue stream. Basically, politicians shut down their main source of revenue to raise taxes.

Welcome to New Jersey politics, where the recent tax fight wasn't between Democrats and Republicans, but between Democratic lawmakers and the Democratic governor. Lawmakers would have done nothing, probably forcing another boost in property taxes, already one of the nation's highest averaging $2,170 per year per capita, while Gov. Jon Corzine sought to meet the $31 billion budget figure by boosting the sales tax a penny to 7 percent.

Corzine won the budget battle, getting his sales tax hike, but only after he shut the government down for nearly a week. This included the lucrative Atlantic City casinos that closed when government inspectors withdrew. The state lost millions in revenues, but the governor got his tax increase, at a cost to the average resident of about $275 a year.

Jersey's government couldn't be a bigger failure. Not only can't it stay open, its tax-and-spend policies rank the state 49th in business friendliness. Burdened by heavy property, income and sales taxes, residents are fleeing the state in droves. Recently it was the 10th most populous state; today it's the 12th most populous, and falling.

As long as New Jersey keeps electing tax-and-spend politicians who won't cut spending, expect more of the same. Ultimately, voters get the government they deserve.