New Jersey voters delivered a right hook to the tax and spend establishment yesterday, defeating 54% of the school budgets statewide. Roughly 25%, compared to 14% last year, of registered voters came out to the polls, most of which were only open in the afternoon and evening hours.
Unlike Roberto Duran, the boxer who made the phrase "No Mas" famous when he quit a championship bout against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980, New Jersey voters have not quit. The quitters already left the state, taking $70 billion of their wealth with them. Like Duran, New Jersey voters are tired of taking a beating.
This election was no fluke. As our friends at InTheLobby point out, this is a trend. The political class... pundits, pollsters, lobbyists and legislators alike are shocked. Just as they were shocked when we defeated Corzine's $400 million bond issue for stem cell research, and just as they were shocked when we sent Corzine back to Wall Street and marital bliss.
They are shocked because they didn't realize that New Jersey voters have come out of the ether and we realize that the Trenton establishment of unions and special interests fleeced us while we were under. We're angry and we want our money back. We want to stay here.
This election was not a rejection of school budgets. It was a repudiation of a system that is literally taxing us out of house and home.
InTheLobby says we can expect a more conciliatory tone in Trenton toward Governor Chris Christie's proposed reforms. That is probably true. The trough swillers will try to get on the right side of the electorate in order to survive so they can eventually put us back under the ether and fleece us another day.
Rather than welcome the conciliation and making nice, I hope Governor Chrisite ups the ante.
Christie's first budget, while extreme to the special interests, is really just the first step of deeper reforms that must come if New Jersey is to return to fiscal sanity. Christie knows that the changes required can not be accomplished in one year. He said he expected his approval numbers to decline and that he is not governing to get re-elected. His current budget and proposed reforms represent the best he thought he could do in the current political environment.
Yesterday's election proves that the political environment is more favorable to reform than even Christie thought it was. His poll numbers are strong. Probably stronger than he thought they would be.
It is time to up the ante. Rather than work with the newly conciliatory trough swillers, I hope that Christie pushes harder, makes them squeal again and squeal louder.
Forget a constitutional amendment to cap property taxes at 2.5%. That will guarantee that property taxes rise 2.5% forever. Such a cap treats the symptoms. It doesn't cure the disease. We need lower property taxes, not a guarantee that they will keep rising at a slower pace.
Let's have constitutional amendments that overturn the Abbot and Mt. Laurel decisions. If the legislature won't go along with that, put the amendments on the ballot for two years. They will pass twice. Let's get rid of "prevailing wage." Let's get rid of civil service protections. Let's get rid of tenure. Let's get rid of defined benefit pensions.
Let's cure the disease.
Swing out Governor. We've got your back and we are counting on you.