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DiCicco: Christie is on Track!

March 27, 2010

Assemblyman DiCicco

Below is a statement from Domenick DiCicco which appeared in the Daily Journal

Gov. Chris Christie has outlined his plan to set New Jersey on a common sense path toward prosperity — finally confronting the obvious and systemic spending problems of New Jersey government that have been ignored for years. The governor is making government more efficient, accountable and, most importantly, affordable again for people struggling to stay in their homes right now. 

Overtaxed New Jerseyans, who suffered 115 increases during the past eight years of Democratic administrations, can be sure that those failed fiscal policies will not continue.

After the state lost nearly 240,000 jobs since December 2007 while gaining the unfortunate distinction of having the region’s highest unemployment rate, businesses once again can feel secure about New Jersey’s future when considering whether to expand or remain in New Jersey. 

The annual budget battles over property tax rebates and state aid to schools and towns will be no more with the governor’s solutions to provide a direct rebate to property tax bills instead of using the gimmicky process of mailing out checks before Election Day. He will give local governments the tools to control their spending via reforms to civil service, public employee benefits and arbitration. 

There is no denying that the shared sacrifices in this budget will be felt throughout every segment of New Jersey, but Gov. Christie has provided hope that after a decade of darkness, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for New Jersey’s financial problems. 

A recent Boston College study found that more than 11,000 households moved out of New Jersey since 2004 and took $70 billion worth of wealth with them. We all know a family or business considering whether to follow them out. 

I hope they don’t leave the state we all love, and instead help Gov. Christie take our state back from entrenched partisan politics and special interests, such as public employees unions whose leaders care more about fleecing taxpayers than serving them. 

 

Gov. Christie’s new direction honestly assesses the state’s problems and meets them directly and responsibly. His approach is refreshing after years of illusionary accounting, reckless borrowing and increased spending designed to selfishly maintain the status quo for another day instead of solving obvious problems for a better future. 

His immediate plan cuts state spending in every department except Education. Those who criticize his budget don’t acknowledge that the proposed increase in state education aid is offset by the fact his predecessor artificially propped up aid last year with $1 billion in non-recurring federal stimulus aid instead of responsibly spreading that money over several years. 

The governor already has forcibly stopped waste throughout New Jersey government, and I expect him to use the same tenacity while pursuing reforms that will yield short- and long-term savings by bringing public employee benefits in line with those provided by private sector, changing collective bargaining rules so that taxpayers are not disadvantaged during contract negotiations and, most notably, capping the growth of property taxes and government spending at 2.5 percent.

That cap could be the breakthrough we need to finally cure the nation’s highest property tax burden — another problem that has been well-known but long ignored. Previous caps in New Jersey have been worthless because they contained enormous loopholes and allowed Trenton bureaucrats to arrogantly overturn the people’s will. But this cap would be ironclad and could be exceeded only if local voters gave their approval in a referendum. 

The cap, which returns power to the people, is based on one in Massachusetts — a state whose reputation has gone from “Taxachusetts” to an environment friendly for both businesses and taxpayers — since implementing a cap in 1980. That state’s local tax burden has improved from third worst to 33rd highest in the nation. 

Even Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who doubts this cap would control spending at all levels of government and yield immediate savings, recently expressed surprise that New Jersey has lost jobs to Massachusetts. 

We can reverse that exodus, which will lead to a prosperous New Jersey for everyone, by following Gov. Christie’s example of “seeing opportunity in every difficulty” and acting now to tackle New Jersey’s problems that have been firmly established, but ignored, in Trenton until New Jersey finally got a governor willing to stand up for the people to solve the problems everyone knows need fixing. 

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