Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey continues to be a glimmer of hope for those of us in New York.
In my opinion, he has advanced a plan that would certainly stop the bleeding in New Jersey and at least get them pointed in the right direction. He understands that when spending far outpaces revenues you need to cut your spending – not arbitrarily increase taxes and fees. So he continues to ignore taxing recommendations from the public employee unions, such as raising the tax on millionaires. Side note: Remember NY did this in last year’s budget – but millionaires were deemed to be people making more than $200,000 as well as businesses with profits of over $250,000.
In addition to his fiscal controls, Gov. Christie has also embraced a plan put forward by Unshackle Upstate. He believes that all public employees, those that get their pay and benefits from the taxes collected by state and local governments and schools, should be moved out of their current defined benefit plan (fully guaranteed by taxpayers) into a defined contribution plan (a 401K, if you will) for their pensions.
By doing so, you remove a great deal of liability on taxpayers that exists when the investment market (Wall Street) falters, as it has happened regularly over the past 18-24 months. He believes, as we do, that taxpayers can no longer foot the bill for a pension system that is simply not affordable and cannot be sustained.
Now, Christie has advanced one more idea: Having N.J. adopt the same property tax plan that was used in Massachusetts and which dropped their property tax rates from 3rd highest in the country to 33rd.
You’ve heard me talk about this before. It is the same plan that we at Unshackle Upstate have been talking about for months. This plan caps school and property taxes at no more than 2.5 percent annually, allows voters to override the cap if needed or underride it if they feel it is too high, and it prohibits the state from passing on unfunded mandates to local governments and schools. If the state wants a new law in place, state officials have to figure out how to pay for it. It is the plan we in New York state need passed so that we can begin to control property taxes that are 60-70 percent higher than the national average.
Take a moment to click this link and listen to the debate. Listen to what they are saying and ask yourself why they aren’t talking about NY.
Regardless of whether you like him or not, you have to acknowledge that Christie is talking the right game. And not only is he talking, but he is taking action. Upon taking office, he declared a state of emergency and froze all spending. He recently introduced a $29.3B budget that eliminates a projected $11B deficit. In N.Y., the recently lapsed state budget was $131.8B and the projected deficit is $9.2B.
When Unshackle Upstate proposed more than $12B in cuts, we were told that wasn’t possible. We were told that it was too much too soon. Maybe it is, but why can’t we try?
Christie recently told the Wall Street Journal, “You just have to stand and grit your teeth and know your poll numbers are going to go down — and mine have — but you gotta grit through it because the alternative is unacceptable.”
N.Y. will be electing a new governor this fall. Will our new governor grit his/her teeth or simply rollover as others have done? In the coming days, Unshackle Upstate will be asking you what you want our next Governor to do for NY. We’ll take your thoughts and share them with the candidates.
Let’s start telling them now that we need them to grit their teeth and make the tough calls.