New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who ousted incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine on promises to clean up Trenton’s fiscal house, is the same peculiar situation as his peers in California and Delaware — things are going a bit too well.
According to Gannett. ” tax collections are expected to jump $429.6 million above Gov. Chris Christie’s projections in the fiscal year that ends June 30″ and $483.8 million for the next fiscal year. This may create additional headaches for the governor’s efforts to reign-in government spending.
For instance, some Democrats in Trenton are arguing that the additional funds should go to restoring the $1 billion in aid to local schools that was cut last year. The state may have to restore the funds anyway if a recommendation by an administrative law judge is adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
For his part, Christie is urgng restraint. His spokesman is quoted by Gannett as saying: “If New Jersey is to experience long-term fiscal health and prosperity, we must actively work to avoid the budget crises that have consistently marked years prior.”
Fat chance of that happening in the rough-and-tumble world of New Jersey politics. The state is more dependent than most on property tax revenue, which as a result are the highest in the nation. Interestingly, the state’s gas tax is among the lowest. Christie, whose star is rising in the Republican party, has adamently refused to consider raising taxes in the second-wealthiest state.
“I’m not going to allow us to revert back to the wild spending that we’ve had for the last decade. It’s going to take years for us to dig out of this hole,” the pugnacious Christie told Bloomberg News in January.
The state’s Democrats, who are often at loggerheads with Chrisstie, have argued that his policies resulted in $1 billion in proprety tax hikes in 2010.
New Jersey’s experience, thoough, is being mirrored in many other states. Yesterday, Calfornia Gov. Jerry Brown released a “revised” $88.8 billion budget, an increase from the $84.6 billion proposed in January. Like New Jersey, California is awash in an unexpected tax windfall. Brown, though, is taking the opposite approach to Christie. He is seeking voter approval to extend several temporary tax increases. California’s projected deficit is expected to fall to $26.6 billion to $9.6 billion, while increasing spending by 5%. Republicans are not impressed.
“He claims concern about a ‘wall of debt’ but makes no mention of massive unfunded pension liabilities which threatens education beyond repair,” California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said in a statement. “Rather than keep his campaign promise to make hard choices, Brown is breaking his campaign promise not to raise taxes without a vote of the people. The bottom line is that Brown’s demand to increase spending while we have a deficit means that he still doesn’t understand that we can no longer spend beyond our means.”
The fights over auusterity at the state level have only just begun and may be as nasty as the battles in Congress.