New Jersey's conservative "leadership" suffered a tremendous set back in its political influence this week. Not surprisingly, the damage was self-inflicted. I have to wonder, when New Jersey voters amended the state constitution in 2007 giving idiots the right to vote, if they didn't have the state's rigid ideological conservatives in mind.
Republican Assembly members Alision McHose and Michael Patrick Carroll and Senator Michael Doherty announced that they would not vote for the budget that was agreed upon by Republican Governor Chris Christie and the Democratic legislative leadership. The Democrats who control the legislature have agreed to provide Christie just enough votes to pass his budget which closes an projected $11 billion dollar deficit without raising income taxes.
When Christie introduced his budget in March, his proposed spending cuts were so severe and the Democratic opposition so passionate that many predicted New Jersey was headed for its second government shutdown in four years. Christie negotiated with the Democrats over how the $29.4 billion budget would be spent, but wouldn't budge on the amount to be spent. He raised some user fees on government services, but stood firm on his commitment not to raise income taxes.
After the agreement was announced, McHose, Carroll and Doherty announced they wouldn't go along. They say the budget is not fair to the middle class and is too generous to the former Abbott districts. They are correct. They are also wrong, and idiotic, to withhold their support of the budget.
Christie's budget stinks. The left hates it, the unions hate it, conservatives hates it, the moderates hate it. Christie even hates it. We are in terrible economic times and worse fiscal shape. We are coming off a 16 year tax, spend and borrow orgy that was lead by Governors Whitman, DiFrancesco, McGreevey, Codey and Corzine. Christie's ugly and imperfect budget, as agreed to by the Democrats, is a tremendous accomplishment. Christie has altered the culture. He has reversed the course of New Jersey's fiscal insanity. This budget is the first step in returning New Jersey to prosperity and growth.
The last minute stunt by McHose, Carroll and Doherty is not a matter of principle.
It is idiocy.
They have sacrificed their own political influence going forward. As the most "purely conservative" members of the legislature, they have set back conservatives ability to shape policy. They have given the tax, spend and borrow Democrats leverage over Governor Christie who is now in a position of having to choose between shutting the government down, or making expensive concessions to the Democrats in order to get a budget passed.
A budget that was "fair," one that corrected all of the inequities of the school funding formula imposed by the State Supreme Court in the Abbott decision, and required the urban areas of New Jersey to start paying their own way, would never have passed the Democratic legislature. Nor would such a budget survived a challenge to the Supreme Court. The damage caused by the socialist drift of New Jersey over the last 16 years is not going to be corrected in one budget cycle. Anyone who thinks the inequities be corrected in one year, with a Democratic legislature and a socialist Supreme Court in power, is an idiot.
McHose, Carroll and Doherty should plead temporary insanity, support the budget, and get to work on repairing the damage they have done to the conservative movement and their careers.