Do you agree that Bill De Blasio’s NYC win might give courage to some New Jersey Democrats, who’ve run scared of Chris Christie? This is by Rob Duffey, Policy and Communications Coordinator for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance. Promoted by Rosi. Thoughts?
Yesterday unapologetically liberal candidate Bill de Blasio cinched the New York City Mayoral primary, and absent an upset will likely go on to win the general election. If you had told the pundits six weeks ago that Bill de Blasio wouldn’t just win the primary but hit the magic 40% necessary to avoid a runoff, most would have laughed in your face. It’s a major win, and it has real implications for progressive activists on both sides of the Hudson.
After 20 years of socially moderate Republican mayors, De Blasio positioned himself as the cleanest break from the Bloomberg years. But what’s really interesting is how he positioned himself as the anti-Bloomberg. De Blasio ran a populist campaign whose central policy proposal called for a massive expansion of public education paid for by a tax hike on the city’s wealthiest residents.
To anyone living in Chris Christie’s New Jersey for the past four years this will seem like a radical proposition. Christie famously cut $1.2 billion from public schools his first year in office, and even after he was forced to restore cuts to New Jersey’s poorest school districts the following year by the Supreme Court he’s continued to shortchange New Jersey schools by a staggering $5 billion. At the same time he’s given $4 billion in tax breaks to the wealthy by failing to reinstate the 2009 tax on people making over $400,000 per year, and given another $2 billion to some of the biggest and most profitable corporations in the world.
In essence, Christie is the anti-De Blasio: instead of raising taxes on the rich to fund New Jersey schools, he’s stolen school funding guaranteed under the law to support tax cuts for the rich and corporations.
Democrats in the legislature have opposed some of the governor’s worst policies, but this year they conspicuously failed to initiate any of their own proposals aimed at restoring funding for New Jersey’s schools. Even an inspiring walkout by nearly 1,000 Newark students this Spring in protest of yet another $50 million cut didn’t snap elected officials out of it.
Some people are making the argument that De Blasio’s win in New York heralds the beginning of a ‘New’ New Left. That may or may not be true, but we can all hope that politicians who have run scared from Chris Christie can look at what’s happening in New York and realize that progressives really can fight and win on issues of progressive taxation, public investment and the role of government. Regardless, after four years of massive cuts to education–both in New York and New Jersey–it’s heartening to see a politician run and win on restoring investments in our children. Let’s hope more New Jersey politicians get the message.