Thursday, October 15, 2015

Democrats Giving Up on SFRA

State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Ray Lesniak has written an op-ed calling for higher taxes in New Jersey to fund what he believes NJ's spending priorities need to be.

Sometimes what's not said is as important as what is said and here Lesniak reveals a lot.

New Jersey is facing serious economic and budgetary problems that cannot be ignored any longer – revenue shortfalls, credit downgrades, critical funds running dry for road and bridge repairs and improvements, and an abdication of financial commitments to secure the integrity of the pensions funds of teachers, police and firefighters, health-care workers and other state employees. These problems are numerous and complex, but that does not excuse the lack of any substantive, long-term solutions to prevent the fiscal train wreck that's coming which can't be avoided by political posturing. 
Presidential aspirations or ideological rigidity must not be the underpinnings of any action that pretends to offer solutions by more budgetary slight of hands or more borrowing. Those chickens have come home to roost. We must take meaningful action now on both sides of the ledger.

What's gloriously conspicuous in its absence is education.

I agree that New Jersey needs to raise taxes and know that much/most/all of that money has to go to infrastructure and pensions, but I want to point out that Lesniak doesn't mention education funding as something the state needs to put more money into.

Lesniak knows that SFRA is badly underfunded and that aid-dependent districts are hurting since they cannot/will not raise their own taxes enough to avoid cuts and yet he doesn't call for more money into education.

This is just another example of how even the Democrats have abandoned SFRA.  In 2011 the Democrats voted for tax increases to fully fund SFRA but for the last few budget cycles they've given up on that and now pass tax increases whose revenues would go into pensions.

Given the state's budget predicament this is understandable but it underscores a point I make again and again and again on this blog that SFRA is unfundable and a joke.

Lesniak seems to accept the inevitability of cuts too, although he uses terms like "expenditure savings" and "action on both sides of the ledger."
My income and estate tax proposals are not magic bullets or silver wands that will fix all of New Jersey's structural fiscal deficits. Expenditure savings and reforms also must be part of the fix, but [raising taxes is] a significant step that should be taken. The approaching fiscal train wreck is not slowing down. [my emphasis]
I await hearing from Lesniak regarding what cuts he sees as necessary.

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