It seems not to have dented the consciousness of our political class that New Jersey’s dismal economic performance might be linked to the state’s tax policy. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, New Jersey is home to the most hostile tax environment for business in the nation. We also bear the nation’s highest burden of state and local taxes. And on the list of the 10 counties with the highest median property tax, we claim seven of them.
During the last recession, we began to feel the full weight of these burdens. Other states responded by cutting back on spending and getting their houses in order. Not New Jersey. Then-Gov. Jim McGreevey added to the burden by borrowing and spending and raising the corporate tax — including the imposition of an alternative minimum tax on business. And we’ve been paying for these bad choices ever since.
Mr. Obama might pay special attention to what these measures have meant for jobs, especially given his expressed concern for the struggling middle class. Though the state did ultimately emerge from recession in 2003, private-sector job creation since then has been a pale shadow of what we enjoyed after the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s.
And just when you thought things were bad, they got worse,
Of course, there was one area where jobs did grow. From 2000 to 2007, says the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, the government added 54,800 jobs. To put that in proper perspective, that works out to 93% of all jobs created in New Jersey over those seven years.
The state of NJ is now the largest employer in the state.
My friend and neighbor TigerHawk looks at the local level:
Sadly, it is not only Trenton that is incompetent. Local governments in New Jersey spend money as if it were without limit, and, in many towns, there really is no limit. Most Princetonians now pay about 3% of the value of their home and property in annual property taxes. For this we get excellent public schools, but virtually nothing else. The fire and the EMS are volunteer, and trash collection is privatized so homeowners pay separately for that. Many of the roads in town are so potholed that they damage cars, and whenever the township does get around to repaving a street it takes forever and, no doubt, costs a fortune because somebody decided we needed Belgian block curbs all over town. Oh, and the sidewalks are now made of special and expensive “permeable” asphalt, because somebody read somewhere that impermeable cover was suddenly a big problem. (Our property, which is about two acres, is as permeable as it gets with about 1.5 acres of wetland and “flood fringe,” and the Township engineer still forced us to buy the special permeable asphalt to rebuilt the sidewalk damaged by the construction of the house.) If it snows, all the begging in the world will not bring a snow plow past your home in time to make a difference. If you want to build something, you can delight in the deliberate speed of the building inspectors, notwithstanding their vested interest in your higher property taxes.
Both TigerHawk and I have been through the paces when it comes to the building process. But that’s not all, and TigerHawk’s commenter reminds us, all those folks are retiring with huge pensions,
While Princeton [Township] doesn’t let public employees retire at 90% of peak salary, it does allow for 80%. I believe the borough also grants lifetime medical care coverage, as perhaps the township also might do. No business in America pays these sorts of benefits, and no municipality in the country can possibly afford them.
The local electorate will not, I am absolutely convinced, will NOT vote them out because as long as they are Democrats, they will keep them in office. I’ve volunteered at the polls, I’ve worked on petitions, I’ve had the local candidates in my podcast, name it, by now I am convinced that’s that.
Local taxes are going up in 2009, and on top of that there’s going to be a real estate reappraisal in the Township so real estate taxes will be even more astronomical. How does $20,000 in annual real estate taxes look to you? How about $40,000? And they don’t even pick up your garbage.
The day nears when The Husband and I leave the area for more fiscally-sane parts. This is a lovely town, and I’ve lived here for nearly twenty years. But, like the net 75,000 taxpayers that NJ lost in the past 6 years, there are equally lovely places where to live where our hard-earned money (or what’s left of it after NJ’s done) won’t be squandered in Belgian block curbs and permeable sidewalks.