Tag Archive: budget

Where the Money Shouldn’t Be: Billions in Tax Cuts & Tax Breaks for Businesses

This is the first in our 7-week budget series with the Anti-Poverty Network, Rethink the 2016 NJ Budget, with posts every Monday & Wednesday at noon. Jon Whiten is Deputy Director of New Jersey Policy Perspective. Promoted by Rosi.

Rethink the 2016 NJ BudgetWe all know that one of the best anti­poverty tools available is a robust, growing economy that offers well­paid jobs to those who need them. In New Jersey, approaching full employment would work wonders for direct poverty reduction, while swelling the state’s coffers with new tax revenue, which would help pay for vital services to reach those left behind and shore up supports to help lift low-­income families into the middle class.

We also know that everyone wants to grow New Jersey’s economy. But the single­minded emphasis on cutting taxes for businesses and offering corporations billions in future tax breaks to repair the devastation of the Great Recession has not worked. Our leaders promise us that the math equation is simple: Tax Cuts + Tax Breaks = More Jobs and Greater Prosperity. But in reality, this equation doesn’t add up.

To wit:

  • The 2016 budget will complete a five­-year phase­-in of billions in business tax cuts. The bill so far: $1.7 billion and growing. And every single year moving forward, New Jersey will lose about $660 million in revenue that could instead be put to good use helping to increase economic opportunities and provide greater economic security for those who need it most.
  • On top of those billions in tax cuts, New Jersey continues to be in the midst of an unprecedented and record­setting surge in business tax breaks. Since January 2010, New Jersey has OK’ed $5.2 billion in these special deals ­- $2 billion in 2014 alone. As a comparison, over the entire previous decade, the state only approved $1.2 billion in these tax breaks.
  • Intro to our new 7-week series, Rethink the 2016 NJ Budget: Put the Money Where It Should Be

    This is the intro for a 7-week series about putting New Jersey’s money where it should be, a joint project of Blue Jersey and the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey (APN). Serena Rice is APN’s Executive Director. Every Monday and Wednesday through May, we’ll examine areas where New Jersey should be making a greater investment, cross posted here and at APN. As always, we want to know what you think, Blue Jersey. Promoted by Rosi.

    budget-books-side-blur-2-crop2Every year around this time I hear the same well-worn phrase. “The state budget is about priorities.” This statement is so familiar that it has lost its impact, maybe even its meaning, for those who perform the annual budget dance. Priorities is not a word that evokes urgency or a sense of shared destiny. It feels neutral from over-use.

    But the concept of priorities is actually central to basic American values like fairness, community, and opportunity. Priorities really means fairness – it means that we can’t let the investment of our state’s resources get skewed to disproportionately benefit the powerful.  Priorities really means community – it means that state investments must respond to urgent needs that are hurting our neighborhoods and our neighbors. Priorities really means opportunity – it means that the state needs to partner with its greatest resource, its people, to make sure that everyone has a chance to more than just survive. Only that way can we all thrive together.

    Trying to Make Christie look like a Good Steward of the Economy

    Following this morning’s Assembly Budget Committee hearing with the Director of the Office of Legislative Services, in the afternoon, the committee heard from the New Jersey State Treasurer and Christie confidante, Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff.

    While the morning session was non-confrontational, the presence of about half again more press and observers was probably due to the expectation of discord between the Treasurer and the Democratic committee members. For a while, that was not to be. Only close to the end of the session did the Treasure make some political statements, and to be excoriated for that by the Committee Chairman, Assemblyman Gary Schaer.

    Sidamon-Eristoff’s opening statement could have been a list of debate points developed for Governor Christie’s presidential campaign. It painted a rosy picture of New Jersey’s economy and the “accomplishments” of the Christie administration. Of note was one area of “saving” – $140 million dollars in budget reduction for hospital charity care. When asked why, the treasurer noted that this was due to thousands of New Jerseyans now able to get health insurance whereas they could not in prior years. And he did this without once uttering the words “Affordable Care Act” or “Obamacare.”

    Kumbaya with Kevorkian

    Every year at budget time, the Office of Legislative Services provides a revenue estimate to the Assembly and Senate committees. The head of OLS, Dr. David Rosen, has been excoriated by the Governor in past years for his pessimistic forecasts. Christie’s nickname for Rosen is “Dr. Kevorkian”, but Rosen’s forecasts have been consistently more accurate than those of Christie’s Treasurer.

    This year was different. Rosen’s testimony at the Assembly Budget Committee this morning was generally non-controversial – especially considering that Rosen started off by saying his forecast is in general agreement with that of the Treasurer (who will appear before the committee this afternoon.)

    No one disagreed that New Jersey’s economy is improving slightly but is lagging behind those of neighboring states. Upon questioning, Rosen attributed this to several factors including the lack of inherent energy resources, our transition from a manufacturing to service economy, and our lack of investment in higher education.

    In past years, these hearings have been an opportunity for committee members of both parties to do some political grandstanding for or against some of the state’s budget initiatives. That grandstanding was noticeably absent this morning. We’ll see if Christie’s Treasurer gets similar treatment this afternoon.

    Save Our Schools New Jersey – Susan Cauldwell

    One of my takeaways from today’s Assembly Budget Committee has been the number of charter school operators education profiteers who testified asking for even more money from the state. Money that would normally go to public schools. Finally, at the end of a long day, as panel members were already dispersing, the last person to testify, Susan Cauldwell from Save Our Schools New Jersey, talked about the underfunding of public education and the real cost of PARCC and Common Core. She was the only one defending public education today.

    After the session, I spoke with Cauldwell about her testimony.

    Schedule of Public Hearings on the NJ Budget

    UPDATE: Christie will also be govsplaining his pension policies at “town halls” – Somerville coming up. Details on the jump page.

    Do you have something you want to say – or ask – about Gov. Christie’s $33.8 billion Fiscal Year 2016 state budget? Here is the schedule of legislative public hearings, all this month:

    Paramus – March 10, 10 a.m.

    Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee hearing

    Bergen Community College, Technology Education Center 400 Paramus Road, Paramus, NJ

    Collingswood – March 11, 9:30 a.m.

    Assembly Budget Committee hearing

    Scottish Rite Auditorium, 315 White Horse Pike, Collingswood, NJ

    Paterson – March 18, 9:30 a.m.

    Assembly Budget Committee hearing

    Passaic County Community College, College Theater

    One College Boulevard, Paterson, NJ

    Trenton – March 24, 9:30 a.m.

    Assembly Budget Committee hearing

    State House Annex, Committee Room 11, 125 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ

    Sewell – March 25, 11 a.m.

    Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee hearing

    Rowan College at Gloucester County, 1400 Tanyard Road, Sewell, NJ

    Directions & how to register to testify. You can also call (609) 847-3105.

    Timing is Everything

    There’s been a lot of hand wringing about Chris Christie’s gift to Exxon Mobil. He “negotiated” a settlement of an $8.9 billion environmental remediation suit to $250 million – less than 3% of the original value. It leaves the cleanup of these toxic sites unfunded, throws away the thousands of jobs that would have been created by this cleanup, and has many people scratching their heads about his motivation for what appears to be a foolish, fiscally-irresponsible stunt.

    But say what you want about Christie – he’s no dummy. He is a conniving egotist whose only driving force is personal ambition.  

    Deep Thought: If anyone would know a campaign speech…

    Chris Christie is truly amazing.  His response to the State of the Union was short and sweet:

    “I thought it was a bit disconnected from reality, but not least bit surprised. It was a campaign speech.”

    Yes, the master of the Jersey Comeback, Governor downgrade himself is always grounded in reality right? This guy has been campaigning for his next position since before he was elected to his first position, so if anyone would know a campaign speech it would be Chris Christie. Maybe he should watch the one he gave just last week.