Friday, March 31, 2006

Raise taxes!

According to yesterday's Ledger Two groups are advocating tax increases.
The groups, which include the New Jersey Education Association and the Communications Workers of America, two powerful unions, urged a $462 million income tax increase for more than 100,000 taxpayers who earn $200,000 to $500,000, and more than $300 million in extra business taxes and suspended tax breaks.
I have a better idea. Let's fire all members of the CWA and NJEA that work for the state and start over again. Remember PATCO!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Did anyone see...

Did anyone see the op/ed piece in yesterday's Ledger by James Soled, a tax professor at Rutgers Newark. The title of the piece is Let the state do our returns. I'd post a link to the piece, but the Ledger didn't post yesterday's op/eds. Anyway, Mr. Soled has decided that it for many people in New Jersey it would be much easier if the State just prepares our returns, mails them to us and we just send it in. He figures for those that only have wage income, the sate, based on the copy of the w2 sent to them by employer's, can fill the return out for you.

It reminded me of the old joke about the new Income Tax form,

Line 1: How much did you make.............._____________________
Line 2: Send it in.

You can't make this stuff up.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Where is the outcry

The new budget plan is in place. A plan that is mostly revenue generators and very little cost cutting. By refusing to make real cuts in state programs, Corzine has put the remaining taxpayers of New Jersey in the position of having to expect tax increases every year. Yet, where are the people. Do they understand or care. I think not. The lack of interest and outcry by the people of this state is frustrating.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The real disappointment

The most disappointing aspect of Corzine's budget proposal is the lack of cuts among the rank and file of the public employee unions. I guess the cozy relationship between Katz and Corzine is still working to her advantage. Let's face it, for a man that promised to bring a businessman's approach to government, Corzine has failed. A "real" businessman, when faced with the realities that expenditures are larger than revenue, does what they have done since the first caveman sold the first chisel, cut expenses. Where do they cut expenses. Payroll. It's the largest most obvious place to cut. Even in small companies with 5 or 10 people the owner knows that 2 or 3 can go without harming the core business. In desperate times owners cut to the bone, many times operating with minimal staff and working the existing staff harder. Large companies, just recently, have shown the way. Ford announced that it was laying off 10,000 workers and just yesterday GM announced similar plans.

The Governor, in order to be taken seriously by the people in this state, needs to make deep and significant cuts in the size of the state government.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Corzine's math doesn't add up

According to the Ledger's report on Corzine's budget,
Corzine estimated his proposed sales tax increases would raise $1.4 billion and cost the average family with an income of $84,000 about $260 per year. In addition to increasing the rate, he wants to expand the tax to new items such as golf and health club memberships, shipping services and music and video downloads.
This is a disingenious statement at best and a lie at worst. According to the year 2000 census by the Federal Census Bureau , the population of New Jersey is 8,698,879 people and the average household consists of 2.68 people or 3,245,850.37 million households. Which means that if the new sales tax increase is supposed to generate $1.4 billion, the average household in New Jersey will pay an additional $431.00.

Alison McHose Gets It

Alison Littell McHose, a republican budget committee member said yesterday,
"It is unfair for the governor to expect our state's taxpayers to accept these massive tax hikes when the size of the state budget is increasing by nearly $3 billion,"
No kidding!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

He could only find 1000 state workers to lay off?

Where are the spending cuts! Well, the new budget is out. The largest cut is in higher ed. The actual budget increases mainly due to pension payments. The best part of Corzine's plan is that he only found 1000 people to cut. Amazing. where's all the waste and fraud he told us about during the campaign?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Corzine read Mulshine

Yesterday Paul Mulshine wrote that Corzine was foolish not to cut the homestead rebate. Cutting the rebate would save the state $2 billion of the $4 billion that Corzine needs. In the today's ledger they are reporting that Corzine might break his rebate promise.

This is what is going wrong in Iraq

I was never in favor of the Iraqi invasion and in hindsight it was a correct call. However, this article on the military opening an investigation into a fire fight involving 12 marines and some insurgents bothered me.
WASHINGTON - The military has opened a criminal investigation into a firefight between U.S. Marines and insurgents last year that left 15 Iraqi civilians dead, defense officials said Thursday.

The inquiry will attempt to determine whether the Marines acted appropriately when they fired back at insurgents following a roadside bomb attack in Haditha, near Baghdad, in November 2005, said a military official who requested anonymity because the investigation has not been announced yet. The civilians were hit during that battle.
The firefight started
...began when a roadside bomb detonated next to a joint Iraqi-U.S. squad patrolling Haditha. Immediately after the explosion, insurgents attacked the patrol with small arms
The focus of the investigation is to
...determine whether the Marines positively identified or tried to identify the enemy and whether they determined there was hostile intent, as they are supposed to do.

What was the line from Apocalypse now? "charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The cracks are starting to show

In Jersey, the growing is slowing
New Jersey's continuing population slowdown is prompting some economists to warn it could be a symptom of serious economic illness in the nation's wealthiest state
. The relavent quote in the artle comes from Jim Hughes, from Rutgers.
It may well be an early warning signal," said Hughes, dean of the university's Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. "There is evidence that the cost of living has become excessive and income levels don't fully compensate for that."

In a November report entitled "Economy at Risk," Hughes and Seneca noted that the state has been losing high-paying jobs for several years in important sectors like pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and computers.

People are leaving. The current financial situation is only going to accelerate the issue leaving Jersey as a state full of tax recievers and no one to be the tax payer.

A half right recommendation

The Ledger is reportingthat the task force set up to make recommendations on the SCC has recommended that it be dismantled.
The state corporation set up to manage a $6billion overhaul of decrepit public school buildings in New Jersey's poorest communities has bungled the assignment so badly, it should be scrapped and replaced with a new agency, a task force recommended to Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday.
Just like New Jersey to get it half right. Disbanding the agency is a great idea. Now let's not replace it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Significant Spending Cuts Absent

The tax hikes that we all knew were coming are nearer. A source from Corzine's staff has told the ledger that the proposed budget includes a 1% increase in the sales tax. I love the way the Ledger's reporter phrased that in the article "an additional penny to the sales tax". It must be the way the Governor is going to sell it to the people. The source says that cuts will include 100 million in state education aid. There is no mention of any other cuts except for a minor cut in political appointee's.


Meanwhile over in the Treasury Department... An ethics probe has been expanded to include 29 people including the director of the Division of Revenue. The SCI is investigating claims that the department allowed a vendor to overcarge $1 million and in return the people under investigation receive $65 thousand in meals and gifts. The probe includes the highest members of the department.


Meanwhile in Education our massive state spending on education has left us with 67 schools that must "scramble to make the grade". And don't forget perks for top educators has politicians sputtering as they rush to raise our taxes.


I could keep going but I'm just too disgusted.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ah, the vindication

Last week I wrote a post about Assemblyman Peter Bondi's ill advised attack on free speech. Well, I guess others were offended as much as I was and this week in Information Week there was an article about the backlash.
A New Jersey Assemblyman's Internet civility bill is on ice since opponents blasted it as an assault on free speech.

Assemblyman Peter Biondi and his staff said they were trying to curb malicious exchanges on some local discussion boards when they introduced a bill requiring people to provide their real names and addresses before posting on public Web sites. The bill also stated that hosts could be sued for failing to disclose the identities of people disseminating false or defamatory information.

Biondi's staff drafted the measure late last year. In was introduced in January. The bill hadn't even made it to committee before a small weekly newspaper published an article about it and Internet news providers began spreading the word. Then, callers from as far away as Canada deluged Biondi's office with complaints.
Everyone else was talking about free speech. I still want to know why this yahoo is not focused on the financial problems of the state.

It just never ends

The Ledger reports today,

A Bergen County school chief was awarded more than a half-million dollars in extra pay for unused sick time and other benefits, including $300,000 that was paid to his estate after his sudden death in 2004.

The superintendent in Long Branch saw his income top $300,000 last year due to more than $110,000 in one-time buybacks and other payments.

And a former superintendent from Teaneck may have added as much as $20,000 to his annual pension when his salary was boosted with end-of-career stipends and pay for unused leave. That doesn't include the $60,000 consultant contract and retirement golf trip to Myrtle Beach.

These and dozens more examples are part of a scathing report on school administrator pay released by the State Commission of Investigation yesterday. The report detailed what it called widespread padding and "manipulation" of compensation, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in added, and often hidden, school costs.

We MUST get rid of the public employment system in this state.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The that's revealed over at the SCC...

Every new detailed reveleation about the SCC just makes me want to scream. From the Ledger today.
Another one bites the dust at SCC
The embattled state agency in charge of a $6-billion overhaul of public schools lost its third chief executive officer in three years today, as Acting CEO Peter Maricondo announced his retirement.

Maricondo, a former utility executive with an expertise in finances, will be replaced Monday by Scott Weiner, a former state DEP commissioner who joined the Schools Construction Corp. as Gov. Jon Corzine's special counsel.

Maricondo, who joined the SCC as the the agency's first chief financial officer last May, became acting CEO last September, with the departure of Jack Spencer. Spencer left as the agency was being overhauled in light of allegations that millions had been wasted through poor management, cost overruns and exorbitant fees to outside contractors during the operation's first two years.

Weiner said the agency hopes to complete an ongoing search for a permanent CEO within several months.
Contributed by Dunstan McNichol
Of course, let's not forget yesterday's story of Union City's complicity in the fraud.
Assemblyman Brian Stack and his political allies in Union City helped coordinate the hasty construction of an apartment building that added more than $1million to the cost of property the state purchased for a new elementary school, state attorneys claim in new court documents.
Boy, our jails are over crowded with the wrong people.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Now he realizes the bad judgement

The governor released a statement on his bail out of a formaer staffer.
"I reacted as a human being responding to someone in need. I have a friendly relationship with her family and she worked on my campaign. However, in light of my position as Governor, I realize this was a mistake. I did not adequately weigh the impact this situation could have on my position as a public official and the fact that it could divert attention away from the important issues facing the state."
I guess I'm not the only one that questioned his judgement.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Another Lapse of Personal Judgement

Jon Corzine bailed out a former staffer from jail the other day.
Gov. Jon Corzine paid $5,000 to bail a Trenton lobbyist out of jail last month after she was arrested and charged with stalking the chairman of the Democratic State Committee, Corzine's office confirmed yesterday.

Karen Golding, manager of government relations at Prudential Financial, had been accused of stalking and breaking into the car of Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D- Union), according to investigators.

Golding, who worked on Corzine's 2000 Senate campaign, contacted the governor for help after the arrest, said Anthony Coley, the governor's spokesman.
Couldn't he have had a friend go and post the bail. Jeez, he's Governor. This man's lapse of judgement in personal matters is recuring and very disturbing. I bet his advisors and handlers just cringe with thoughts of what else he might do.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The tax hikes are coming....

Corzine, yesterday, told a group of people that he was speaking to that there would be deep cuts and tax increases.
Former state Treasurer Michael Horn, a Republican and a member of Corzine's transition team, said he thinks tax increases are inevitable. "I think enhanced revenues through tax increases, whether they be permanent or temporary, will have to be done," Horn told the gathering.
So far we have seen no real information on planned budget cuts. All that the transition team has spoken about in detail is tax increases. It's easy to fill a 4.5 billion budget gap. Just cut state spending by 4.5 billion. The net effect will be a drastic increase in local property taxes and then people can see how their local government and school boards have mismanaged their money.

What about property taxes?

Someone must have really taken some shots at assemblyman PETER J. BIND on the internet that will disallow anonymous post on internet forums.
This bill would require an operator of any interactive computer service or an Internet service provider to establish, maintain and enforce a policy requiring an information content provider who posts messages on a public forum website either to be identified by legal name and address or to register a legal name and address with the operator or provider prior to posting messages on a public forum website.

The bill requires an operator of an interactive computer service or an Internet service provider to establish and maintain reasonable procedures to enable any person to request and obtain disclosure of the legal name and address of an information content provider who posts false or defamatory information about the person on a public forum website.

In addition, the bill makes any operator or Internet service provider liable for compensatory and punitive damages as well as costs of a law suit filed by a person damaged by the posting of such messages if the operator or Internet service provider fails to establish, maintain and enforce the policy required by section 2 of the bill.

Doesn't this putz have something better to do like lowering my property taxes or solving the state's financial mess. Throw the bums out!

Friday, March 03, 2006

A tax on the poor

In Trenton yesterday the debate continued regarding mandating that certain size employers provide health care coverage for their workers. According to the Ledger
The bill (S477) would require companies that have at least 1,000 employees in New Jersey to provide affordable health insurance coverage to them or pay a special surcharge to the state. It is aimed at companies whose employees and dependents end up qualifying for publicly subsidized health insurance programs like New Jersey FamilyCare.
So by specifically targeting Wal-Mart, New Jersey will penalize all the poorer people that shop at Wal-Mart with higher prices that Wal-Mart is required to pass along.

Perhaps these politicians should focus on the real issues facing the state. Issues such as bankrupt Transportation, Pension and School Construction Funds or the rampant corruption and fraud that permeates all levels of state government or the run away property taxes we all face or the out of control state spending or the unconstitutional borrowing that the state is involved in.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another example of the law of unintended consequence

Today the Ledger reports that boaters are in a tizzy because then acting Governor Codey passed a bill requiring boaters to take a safety class.
Taking the boating community by surprise, then-Gov. Richard Codey signed a law in January requiring operators of all power boats more than 12 feet long to take a safety course. The legislation, introduced three years ago, kicked around the statehouse for so long that when it was finally enacted, it gave some boaters only five months to come into compliance.
This is just another example of politicians meddling in affairs that require no government regulation when what they need to do is to address the serious financial issues confronting the state.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Abuses prevail

Tom Moran toady has an excellent article/op-ed piece on the State's Pension system. In the article, This pension system will be the death of us he sights multiple examples of abuses such as:
A 1998 report by the state Commission of Investigation found abuses everywhere. South Orange allowed 11 police officers to boost their pensions by counting unused vacation time as salary. Bradley Beach gave several top officials big raises in their final year, and counted sick and vacation time as salary.

One Edward Costello, former police chief of Edison, got a boost to salary during his last year on the job that boosted his yearly pension to $115,000 per year. His quote? "It's not my fault," he says. "I played by the rules."

I think we should just change those rules. I think we should reduce the payments were currently making and say, "Hey, we just changed the rules. Tough luck."