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 104125.) There are approximately 4050 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.