Tag Archive: state aid

The SL Editorial Board Strikes Again

promoted by Rosi

It is hard to wrap my mind around the levels of hypocrisy demonstrated in the latest Star Ledge editorial.

In support of Assemblyman Burzichelli's bill to ban fee based extracurricular activities in public schools, the Star Ledger board starts with sympathy for the families paying these fees, “With shrinking average incomes and stubborn unemployment, how much can these families be expected to spend?” 

Well, gee, these are the same people the SL editorial board told to go vote for Christie, the Governor who gave many districts an increase of $1.00 in state aid last year while requiring expensive new teacher evaluation systems and preparing for high tech, high stakes standardized tests. It seems to me the SL should have thought about this before November 5th.


Comfortable People Get Most State Aid

promoted by Rosi

Governor Christie announced state aid to municipalities yesterday, and I spent a good bit of time playing with the numbers.  There are four towns that receive more than $1,000 per person in state aid, and only ten others that get more than $500.  Two of the ones getting over $1,000 have very few people (Tetorboro with 67 and Walpack with 16) and one is Camden which is really poor and in trouble.

But one of them has solid family incomes and significant populations.  The words below are blockquoted not because they are a quote but to set them aside.

Lower Alloways Creek Township has a population of 1,770 and receives $7,231,202 in state aid this year, or $4,085.42 per person.  The median family income of $66,384.

I really have no point, and spent far too much time getting the population data for all the towns in NJ, then dismissing 564 of them.  

edited to pull Lawrence, since my pop data was for the wrong Lawrence.  My bad.  Does make me wonder why Lower Alloways Creek gets so much.  Anyone know?

Quote of the Day: “Gov. Christie is an iceberg coming right at us”

Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer has not been shy about his disapproval for the Governor’s plans to cut back on state aid. Trenton is seeing $43 million in aid cut and we get this from the Mayor about what the situation is:

“Right now it looks pretty bad. We’ve been put in a position where we are just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and Gov. Christie is an iceberg coming right at us,”

Palmer says the money is owed to the city because they have to pay their rent. The Governor is saying they have to go through the process to compete for aid. I’l like to be able to tell my mortgage company that they have to go through a process to compete for my money.

The New York Times Gets It Right

Cross posted at myDD

A week after the the Washington Post completely botched their assessment of a second stimulus package, the New York Times turns around and nails it.

Their editorial entitled "No End in Site" lays out perfectly what the next few steps should be to help the economy whether this current storm. They begin by stating the obvious:

Lawmakers need to start crafting the next stimulus bill — without repeating the mistakes of the last one. Composed mainly of tax rebates, as the White House wanted, the first stimulus was too broad to deliver a powerful punch.

Amen. It is clear that the first round of stimulus checks didn't work. The editorial then confirms what many experts have been saying is a real potentially relief-filled measure that Congress needs to take with the second stimulus package:

The next package has to focus on actions that are known to yield big economic benefits: bolstered food stamps, which rapidly boost consumption; and aid to states and cities so they can continue to provide essential services.

Lawmakers should also invest in infrastructure projects, like repairing bridges and roads. If not, projects that are already under way may have to be canceled, creating more unemployment.

Thank you. The fact that state and city governments are not asking for money to continue radical spending on pet projects, but instead to protect essential services like education and health care seems to be lost on the minds of those who are not in favor of including state aid in a second stimulus package. Every week there are stories upon storiesof states being forced to slash budgets, pay, and jobs. They are a linch pin of the economy and no one seems to notice. And investing in infrastructure will ensure that we don't add thousands of workers who make their living off of said infrastructure projects. The construction industry has been hit hard enough as is.

The editorial also touches on a response to the home foreclosure crisis:

Congress also needs to ensure that a $4 billion grant to states and cities to buy up vacant properties is quickly and efficiently distributed. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is developing the formula for allocating the money, and early indications suggest it is on top of the process. But the White House is contemptuous of the grant, calling it a gift to speculators when it is actually a lifeline for ailing communities.

If you aren't a Bush republican who just hates any sort of aid not aimed at the highest income bracket, then the main criticism of this effort is that is simply not enough to have an impact on the housing market. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen, but it is still $4 billion to help turn foreclosed properties that the states with said properties currently do not have. In that regard it is a stabilizing factor, even if it is not the stabilizing factor that ultimately turns the foreclosure crisis around. As the editorial says, it is a lifeline for ailing communities who simply do not have the money do to anything with these foreclosed homes.

The time for action is now, but because Congress is in recess the time for action will actually be September. The article suggests the difficulty with creating a second stimulus package in an election year, but brings up the most important point of them all:

Millions of Americans are already suffering. And we fear millions more will be hurt before this crisis ends. They cannot wait until after the election for help.

A very valid point. It's hard to care about battleground polls, attack ads, and town halls when you're losing your job and your home.

NJ Students taking hits from all sides

If you’re a college student in NJ, you just can’t catch a break these days.   Today’s news concerns interest rates on loans:

According to figures released Thursday, N.J. Class loans will be available for 7.62 percent, up from 5.9 percent last year. Still, state officials said they were pleased with the new rate, given the turmoil in the financial markets, the paper said.

This news comes on top of recent tuition hikes:

Two of the biggest public universities in New Jersey — Rowan and Rutgers — this month approved overall tuition and fee increases of about 8 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, for the 2008-09 year. The average increase in tuition and fees at public universities in the United States last year was 6.6 percent, according to the College Board.

That’s just a sampling of the tuition increases facing students at NJ colleges as they head back to school this fall.  Other Colleges are passing the increases off on their students as well:

Students at the Hudson County Community College will be hit with an 8.1 percent tuition hike in the fall, while New Jersey City University students will confront a 7 percent hike, officials said.

Another factor contributing to the problem are the state budget issues which lead to cuts in state aid:

This fiscal year, state aid to New Jersey colleges and universities was cut about 10 percent and contributed to an overall 7.5 percent increase in tuition. State aid support has been inadequate for years, and higher education officials contend this makes it difficult for the state to expand and take in more state students.

The Star Ledger ran an Op-Ed calling for the State to seek innovative ways of reducing education higher costs giving us this troubling statistic:

Over the past 15 years, tuition at public colleges and universities in New Jersey has outpaced the rate of inflation as well as the growth in median family income. Given the dismal conditions of the state and national economies, higher education is unlikely to receive significant funding increases to prevent additional tuition increases.

Not being able to afford or receive an education will only hurt the economy further, but I don’t see a reversal in this trend on the horizon.  Thurman Hart even talked recently about education being key to energy policy. None of these issues exist in a vacuum and while I don’t know what the breaking point is, if we keep going in this direction we may find out.

Anyone want some waffles?

Jon Corzine, fresh from the defeat of his toll-road plan, is now capitulating on his plan to cut aid to small municipalities:

When delivering his budget earlier this year, Gov. Jon Corzine said he would cut $169 million in aid to all cities and towns, including $37 million to towns with populations under 10,000. Local officials said the aid loss would lead to property tax hikes.

Earlier this week, the administration said it wanted to restore part of the aid to the small towns to make sure the cuts don’t spark property tax increases of $100 or more. Today, the Department of Community Affairs said it would shift dollars from other aid programs to restore $14.9 million to the small towns.

First of all – wft?  Is Corzine really so deeply engrossed in the Clinton campaign that it just never occurred to him that state aid cuts would be made up by local property tax hikes?  Uh, this guy is a banker, right?

Second, by what logic does it make sense to restore aid to small towns but not to large towns?  Oh, there are more people in the bigger cities, so…what, there are more people to make mad?  

Take a jump.  

Go Forth and Multiply, New Jersey

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock in the Palisades, you know that this week Governor Corzine delivered a major budget address that included a half a billion dollars in cuts from last year’s budget. A big husky ouch right in the heart of the Garden State.

As part of this plan for state austerity, towns with fewer than 10,000 people will have their state aid cut in half.  Towns with fewer than 5000 people will get no state aid at all.

Zippo. Nada. Zilch. An even bigger ouch.

The budget plan gives towns that don’t have the urge to merge, a nudge to budge. Smaller towns may have to give way to bigger towns. And so on. The bigger fish must eat the smaller fish. But, there is another, better way, if your town likes its home rule ‘small and sweet’, rather than ‘big and brassy’, here’s an idea just for you:

Go Forth and Multiply, New Jersey.

Before your town merges with that that big metropolis next to you and your quiet Main Street gets all swallowed up by a crowded and bustling Route 1, here’s a better solution: Increase your town’s population.

That’s right: Initiate a  public policy to bring your town’s population to over 5000, so you don’t lose state aid. And there’s only one fun way to do that.

Tell your citizens to go forth and multiply. Know thy neighbor, in the Biblical sense. It’s good public policy to merge —-with each other, not with the town next to you.

And think it about it. It’s a bi-partisan issue. No liberal Democrat or conservative Republican can or will object.

If you’re a pro-life conservative Republican, you gotta love the idea of ceaseless, continual, and continuous procreation.

And if you’re a liberal Democrat fan of the Kennedys and Bill Clinton, you gotta love the idea of getting to ‘know your neighbor’ in the Biblical sense.

So, New Jersey don’t despair about the threat of losing your state aid. Do the horizontal shuffle. Do the hokey-pokey and shake it all about. Put the ‘sex’ in to Essex, Middlesex, and Sussex. Stop just Metuchen and use that Long Branch. Go down the Jersey Shore, and pay that toll. Go skiing down the Great Gorge. Travel up to the Palisades, and then over the GW Bridge. Take the PATH train through the Holland Tunnel.  F$%#k each other, so that Trenton does not F$%#k you first.

Go forth and multiply, Garden Staters. It’s just good public policy.