Republican members of the senate Budget Committee released the following statement following budget meetings Thursday:
Governor Corzine bristles when anyone points out failed policies that have worsened today's budget mess and reflexively labels them as "partisan." However, unless he acknowledges failed policies, he will never be able to correct them and things won't get much better for people in New Jersey.
Here are some of the failed policies that have made our situation worse.
Since 2002, more than 100 taxes have been increased on job-creating businesses, helping to drive them away.
Since 2002, burdens like Paid Family Leave and COAH obligations imposed on job-creating businesses have made us less competitive than our neighbors.
There is objective data to show what the past several years of these policies have wrought. Our unemployment rate, once lower than every surrounding state, is now higher. Our decreasing standing amongst our neighbors can not be attributed to a global problem.
Other changes that have put our State in a worse predicament than our neighbors relate to our preparedness to deal with economic downturn. Eight years ago, the Unemployment Insurance Fund had a $3 billion surplus, the State's budget had a $1 billion planned surplus against a $22 billion spending plan, the Transportation Trust Fund had life left in it, and the Open Space Fund was flush with cash. Debt, which was already too high, stood at $16 billion.
Today, the State's planned surplus has been reduced significantly to unhealthy levels even as State spending increased by 50%. The transportation and open space Funds are teetering on insolvency after increased spending and debt gimmicks pushed them to this point. The State's debt load more than doubled to almost $40 billion as borrowing programs expanded and debt payments were delayed through irresponsible restructurings that pushed debt payments out 20 years.
Ironically, surrounding states like Massachusetts and Connecticut have been building surpluses, not shrinking them. Surrounding states have refrained from hiking taxes 100 times or forcing the types of regulations on businesses like New Jersey.
Aside from embracing policies that caused New Jersey to be ill-prepared for a the current global problem, Governor Corzine has been slow to act. Despite early indications in October and November that our current budget was headed for a deficit, he continued to sign spending bills and gave out discretionary money under mismanaged programs like Special Municipal Aid. He continued to refuse to kick part time workers out of the pension system or to make other spending cuts that had been proposed by Republicans for years. In fact, he refused to identify any spending cuts until he was sued.
The hard truth is that Governor Corzine's policies have made our situation worse. Until he starts acknowledging policies that have made our situation worse instead of reflexively shouting "partisan" at anyone who points them out, he will continue to be unable to fix what is obviously broken.