From the Star Ledger:
Newly-released 2015 Census data only further confirms the depth of New Jersey’s economic funk.
The state’s recovery is really struggling, people. Compared to other states, including our neighbors, we’ve had some of the weakest improvements in wages, poverty, median household and per capita income.
We have finally seen some jobs added after a lost decade, but they tend to be lower-paying. Meanwhile, the number of New Jerseyans living in deep poverty has risen by the thousands.
Thanks to our high cost of living and low wages, we also have the largest share of young adults living with their parents in the nation. New Jersey was one of just 8 states that actually saw growth in income inequality.
In short, the magical thinking that Gov. Chris Christie has relied on to steer the economy is simply not working. Like many Republicans, he clings to the notion that lower taxes are the key to economic growth, despite all the hard evidence to the contrary.
Christie has imposed more than $2 billion in business tax cuts during his time in office, not including an additional $660 million annually that kicks in at the end of 2016, when they are fully phased in. He also repeatedly vetoed a modest increase of taxes on the richest among us, despite the fiscal crisis.
The truth is that investors look not just at taxes, but at the quality of the infrastructure, the skills of the workforce, and even the performance of public schools.
Meanwhile, our structural problems remain: Bridges and roads in dreadful shape, that we can’t afford to fix; overcrowded buses and trains with obscenely expensive fares, high costs on energy and health care, and a fiscal crisis that cripples state government.
What would help? Both business and labor say the most pressing task is to rebuild the states crumbling infrastructure, where Christie’s failure has been dramatic. He promised a reliable funding source for transportation, then failed to produce it, throwing up his hands and blaming the Legislature.
No serious player disputes that we need a tax increase to cover these costs. The math is unforgiving. But Christie won’t agree to that unless a gas tax is paired to even larger tax cuts, despite the fiscal crisis. That rigid thinking is a triumph of ideology over evidence.
But this was never about the data. It’s about Christie’s national ambition. Our state’s recovery trails the rest of the nation because Christie won’t defy anti-tax dark lord Grover Norquist, and do what is best for this state.