Before reading this diary, consider what role you think a U.S. senator should have in securing federal money for her or his state. Should senators act as passive conduits for federal dollars and only allocate what is necessary for their state, or should they actively lobby for federal dollars for their state, using influence, power, and committee positions to secure this money — especially when their state receives disproportionate amount of tax dollars in return from tax dollars sent to the federal government? No matter your political philosophy on this question, the fact is that New Jersey receives the least amount of federal tax dollars returned (scroll to New Jersey) from money sent to the federal government.
Currently, New Jersey is dead last in terms of tax dollar expenditures to the federal government vs. tax dollars returned. In other words, as The Tax Foundation states
New Jersey taxpayers receive less federal funding per dollar of federal taxes paid than any other state.
On one hand, this is somewhat understandable. The federal income tax relies on progressive system of taxation, which means those with higher income pay a higher percentage of net income, in turn, to the government. New Jersey consistently ranks as one of the richest states in the country, so there would be some structural fiscal reasons why a state with such high income residents would pay more to the government; that said, Maryland, one of the richest states in the country, is consistently in the top 20 for federal dollars returned on taxes, and Alaska, another rich state, also receives very high returns on taxes spent versus taxes returned.
This disproportionate amount of tax money returned to N.J. is a major reason why the state has such a problem with high property taxes. Many a policy expert and economist have stated that, if N.J. received more tax dollars back from the federal government, our property taxes and fiscal health could be bettered. According to one award-winning journalist
Even a small bump in federal money could help close an estimated $2 billion budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, giving the legislature a potential source for property tax relief.
One could say, and there have been analysts who claim this, that the Republicans in Washington, when they were in power, were punishing N.J. for being such a Democratic state by not sending us federal money; but the disparity existed during the Clinton years into the Bush years, putting a hole in this theory of deliberate malfeasance. Both during the Clinton and the Bush years, the Fiscal Year Budget (FYB), which is then sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, has been incredibly unkind to our state.