Friday, July 23, 2010
Gov. Christie coming off his victory capping property tax increases is moving on not to greener pastures but the nitty gritty. Slowing down future growth of increases obviously does nothing in relief for the current overtaxed New Jersey homeowner. The real challenge still lies ahead.
The State Legislature is going to be the place for key battles leading into the fall and determine if there is any chance to take New Jersey's current crisis and have the state reinvent itself after years of growing structural problems in pension, arbitration, and benefits.
The unions especially the teachers do not want to hear any of this. They declined to take a one year pay freeze and spent millions to tear down support for the governor after the election. Millions more spent before the election failed to persuade the electorate and it was Democratic voters who made the margin of victory and pulled the lever crying, "We can't take it anymore."
The Governor who kicked off his toolkit tour in Hoboken has come out of HudCo, deep in the enemy camp with a victory. But it's only one battle among many larger ones looming ahead that will determine New Jersey's future. The 2% cap battle is small in comparison to what lies ahead.
New Jersey's future is already showing close to an $11 billion deficit. If that rings familiar, it's because it's the same gap "closed" earlier. As it happens, the structural problems with the State's finances are so stark, only the symptoms have been addressed. The root cause of the disease could very well kill the patient if left to its own devices.
Related: Gov. Christie has yet more hurdles ahead. Some of the changes in cost for new hires hasn't even begun to touch the heavy cost for existing employees. That's going to be a real test for effectiveness of all elected officials. Even attempting to do so, will turn the dynamics upside down.