New Jersey's B.S. Budget

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Since New Jersey’s
budget fight is still in my face every day, and the broadcast news
media seem incapable of reporting just what comprises it, I thought
I’d try to find out. A web search found the budget here,
and it is quite enlightening. At 131 pages, the document is not
for the faint of heart.

On page 126
of the document we are told that in 2005 (the year actual figures
are shown), $77.2 million was spent on the state legislature. An
incredible $15.3 billion was handed over to the executive
branch, which includes about fifteen “departments,” including the
Department of Health and Senior Services, and the Department of
Human Services. (Eliminate the $6 billion given to these two departments
and the current budget “crisis” is immediately resolved.) With over
$15 billion under his control, it’s no wonder that Jon Corzine spent
mere millions to become governor.

Somehow the
judiciary deserved about seven times as much money as the legislature
in 2005: $537.7 million. It also appears that approximately
$700 million was pilfered from casinos and distributed to seven
state agencies. There’s also $9.3 million in “Property Tax Relief
Fund” money that was given to four agencies. I admit that last one’s
a little fuzzy to me….

On page 61
of the budget, we are shown a graph and cheekily informed that "72
cents of every dollar goes to Property Tax Relief and Grants in
Aid." This is somewhat disingenuous, as a closer look reveals
that this 72 cents includes "Education Aid programs, Municipal
Aid, Property Tax Relief programs, General Assistance, Aid to County
Colleges, Medicaid, Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled,
Nursing Home programs, and support for Higher Education." In
other words, most of the money is pure socialist redistribution.

Meanwhile,
page 62 ominously documents "Growth in Selected Mandated Programs."
Of the top thirteen, most are transfer payments or school-related:

Teachers’
Pension and Annuity Fund
$744.12
million

Homestead
Rebates
$529.80

Charity
Care
$300.00

Medicaid
Including Long Term Care
$358.04

Pensions
State Employees
$287.70

G.O.
Debt Service Costs
$263.46

Salary
Increases State Employees
$199.95

All
Other Debt Service
$184.13

Business
Employment Incentive Program
$169.67

School
Construction and Renovation Fund
$115.95

Child
Welfare Reform
$114.98

Education
Opportunity Aid (Abbott Districts)
$  92.00

Local
Teachers’ Post-Retirement Medical
$  54.36

While all this
waste of taxpayers' stolen money is heinous and criminal, the revenue
side of the budget is just as alarming. Shockingly, the sources
of the state’s revenue fill twenty-two pages! (See Schedules
1 and 2, pages 104–125.) There are approximately 40–50
sources per page, which means that New Jersey has its sticky fingers
in something like 1,000 pies!

In addition
to the familiar sales tax, business tax and sin taxes, New Jersey
steals money from its subjects through “Fertilizer Inspection Fees,”
“Milk Control” and “Truth In Renting.” The theft is dizzying and
all-encompassing, and illustrates beyond all doubt the madness of
a government without meaningful constraints. It makes one wonder
how this could have happened, how we citizens could have given away
the power over our earnings and property to these vile, socialist,
spendthrift politicians, without much more than a feeble mumbling
of protest.

Other hard-to-understand
sources of income for the NJ government include:

  • Pleasure
    Boat Licenses (a tax on fun?)
  • Retired
    Officer Handgun Permit (I guess they're exempt on the job)
  • State Police – Fingerprint Fees (so who do the police charge?)
  • Autonomous
    Transportation Authorities (whaaaaat?)
  • Horse Breeding
    and Development Fund (maybe they're police horsies)
  • Poultry
    Service (I'm not making this up)
  • State Revolving
    Fund – Administrative Costs ("revolving" fund?)
  • Traumatic
    Brain Injury Surveillance (yes, they must be watched)
  • Innovative
    Seat Belt Use (yes, this must be explored)

There are many,
many more, too numerous to mention, and I’ll leave it to the readers
of this article to mull over the state’s rationale in shoving its
crooked nose into any of these areas. Even if you believe that taxes
are inevitable, and that some tribute is due our rulers….
1,000 sources of revenue!? It’s nuts, obviously unmanageable, disgraceful,
and there is no end in sight.

July
8, 2006

Andrew
S. Fischer has worked in various fields.

Andrew
S. Fischer

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