Source: Wall Street Journal -
Long after people have forgotten or ceased to care which of Chris Christie’s fired aides caused a traffic jam, the New Jersey governor will still have a big political problem. After his two terms, citizens of the Garden State will likely suffer under essentially the same oppressive tax burden that existed on the day he took office. And Mr. Christie is now moving in the wrong direction.
New Jersey’s Star-Ledger reports: “Gov. Chris Christie’s $34.4 billion budget proposal includes several revenue-raising measures, like requiring the increasingly popular electronic cigarettes to be taxed at the same rate as traditional cigarettes, and making online retailers charge state sales tax.”
Mr. Christie’s staff won’t use the T-word to describe these proposals but has instead referred to revenue-raisers as “adjustments” to close “loopholes.” Along with tax hikes, a small part of the package is an increase in the penalty for those who try to pay their taxes with the electronic equivalent of a bad check.
The governor’s opponents say that the new Christie levies are in a category that the governor has previously described as tax hikes when enacted by Democrats. And at least one prominent Republican in the state legislature agrees. “As a general matter, these look to me to be tax increases,” Assemblyman Jay Webber told the Star-Ledger.
Even more disappointing is that in Mr. Christie’s current budget the governor abandons his call for a cut in state income taxes.
State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff says that the budget’s, um, revenue raisers will bring in an additional $240 million in 2015. He also says that more than offsetting these increases are the business tax cuts Mr. Christie signed in 2011 which will amount to $616 million in the coming year.
Not that a reform budget would have much chance of being enacted. The central problem is that New Jersey legislative districts have been gerrymandered to ensure liberal governance. Even as Mr. Christie cruised to a landslide re-election last fall, Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature were never in danger. This means New Jersey residents will continue to bear one of the country’s heaviest tax burdens, which in turn will continue to restrain economic growth. And that in turn will make it difficult for Mr. Christie to tell a compelling story in 2016 about Garden State success.