Why can’t government just cut spending?

From the Asbury Park Press:

Property tax reform plan

When will the New Jersey Legislature learn the simple lesson that every family and wage-earner in this state already knows — that you can’t spend money you don’t have. I’ve yet to see any elected official apply the same common sense to spending money that most working men and women do as a matter of survival.

When politicians want to spend more money, they increase tax rates or borrow money. Taxpayers can’t. Our incomes are dictated to us by the companies that employ us. Sometimes that means going years without a raise, while the cost of everything else increases.

About 25 years ago, New Jersey imposed a 4 percent cap on municipal and county spending increases to control property taxes. But it allowed municipalities to exceed the limits under certain circumstances.

Today, the Legislature is proposing the same solution, along with adjustments to individual tax bills based upon ability to pay. Is this really a step forward in property tax reform? No, there are still loopholes. The Legislature failed to restrict the amount of money governments can borrow in a single budget year. The more money a municipality borrows to fund current projects, the more taxes it needs to collect later. The legislation failed to require governments to pay back at least 25 percent of its debts in its current budget before it could borrow money again.

The legislation failed to impose a cap on the annual increase in property tax rates. Capping annual spending increases without capping rate increases provides no direct relief to the majority of property taxpayers, who would receive no adjustment under the current legislation.

The legislation exempted selected items in municipal and county budgets from the cap. You can’t get property taxes under control unless you put limits on all spending.

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42 Responses to Why can’t government just cut spending?

  1. sas says:

    Because they are a bunch of idiots.
    Thats why.

    Vote their tails out of office.


  2. thatbigwindow says:

    Too many powerful unions and S.I. groups the pols cater to.

    Thanks NJEA!

  3. James Bednar says:

    I have a better idea, why not just sell all our assets? From the Press of Atlantic City:

    Lottery sale could pay off for state, analyst says

    If purchasing a lottery ticket can turn a working-class Joe into a millionaire overnight, what can selling an entire state lottery do?

    With his budget address two days away, Gov. Jon S. Corzine continues to look at the possibility of leasing New Jersey’s lottery as a way to begin paying down $30 billion in state debt; but while leasing the lottery may be a far less controversial idea than leasing the New Jersey Turnpike, it is not quite a “scratch and win” game in its simplicity either.

    Corzine will need to consider several questions if he plans to include the lottery in his plans when he delivers Thursday’s budget address.

  4. thatbigwindow says:

    Like a dying church selling their parsonage for $500,000 and spending it on the ministers salary of 90k a year.

  5. Al says:

    Let’s say NJ will sell off all of it’s assets – in 10 years money will run out and no solution will be found – which brings me back to the question: CAn a Atate default on it’s financial obligations – e.g. say “sorry no money to pay your pensions today”… and to police officers: “Sorry no money for gasoline today”??

    r will hte federal goverment bail NJ out? Since we are close to NY?

  6. Sally says:

    Yes the state can default NYC almost did in the 70’s .I wouldn’t give N.J. 10 years even if they did sell assets off. Pension liabilities will be 75 bill in 20 years every year it goes up almost 10%.

  7. pesche22 says:

    Trenton is just to shameless to do
    anything for the taxpayers.

    NJ is and has been a welfare state for
    years now.

    The illegas have taken over . Walk the
    streets, they are here , go to a hospital
    and sit in the lobby and watch who is coming
    in and out. It’s not americans , its , well
    take your pick,

    Trenton makes the world takes,,,,

    And NJ has been taken over.

  8. James Bednar says:

    Estimates put the NJ illegal population at the 1m mark. From the Record:

    Handling N.J.’s boom in illegals

    New Jersey’s illegal immigrant population has grown so dramatically in size and impact in the last decade that the League of Municipalities has formed a task force to study the community and its effect on the state in general.

    Advocates believe New Jersey could have close to 1 million illegal immigrants. The underground community — which stretches from the northernmost Bergen County towns to the southern tip of New Jersey in Cape May — has overwhelmed some areas of the state, with up to 200 day laborers crowding streets in places like Bergenfield, Palisades Park and Morristown each day.

    “The buck on immigration law is supposed to stop with the federal government,” said the task force chairman, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes. “But it’s in our local communities that illegal immigrants go to schools and get mended at our hospitals, so in the absence of any action from the federal government, it is incumbent upon us to delineate options and create ordinances that deal with the impact of this population.”

  9. curiousd says:

    1 million! holy crrrap! that’s, like, 1 in 8!

  10. AntiTrump says:

    Are there more state employees than the voters of NJ???

    How is it that politicians can bend over to the unions while sticking it to the voters of the state.

    Or are they so confident that we will always vote lib dems into power regardless of the pain and suffering? Maybe..

  11. RentinginNJ says:


    I think you are on the right track. NJ needs to treat its current situation more seriously; more like a bankruptcy proceeding and less like a minor “tune-up”.

    In a bankruptcy, debt gets restructured, contracts are renegotiated and a plan is put together for going forward in a sustainable manner.

    This may take changes to the state constitution, but this is 100% necessary. NJ needs to do the following:

    – Cut discretionary spending for non essential programs (i.e. stem cell research) unless they bring private sector business to the state.
    – Raise the retirement age for all new employees to 62. Raise the retirement age for existing employees based on a sliding scaled based on age & years of service.
    – Require pension & healthcare contributions for all employees
    – Benchmark salaries with private sector jobs and public sector jobs in other states. Anyone making more than certain level would not be eligible for a raise.
    – Share services such as police departments, building departments, township engineers etc.
    – Merge school administration to reduce # of administrators and gain leverage in negotiations
    – Have a private company take over failing schools in Newark & Camden.

  12. RentinginNJ says:


    Do you know if the Census Bureau statistics include illegal immigrants in their “international immigration” number?

  13. RentinginNJ says:

    Or are they so confident that we will always vote lib dems into power regardless of the pain and suffering? Maybe..

    I think this is probably it.
    I know some hard-nose pro Bush police officers that are right wing on just about every issue imaginable from abortion to Iraq. In a NJ election, however, they sheepishly vote democratic because it directly impacts their wallet. I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same in their position.

  14. bergenbubbleburst says:

    We cannot just keep blaming the elected officials. Need to hold the residents accountable as well. massive scholl budgets that are approved every year, because the local school board instills fears into peoples hearts by telling them that failure to approve the budget will mean the decline of their property values.

    Ever got to a school board meeting nobody there, mayoer and council meeting no body there.

    And unfortunately these positions tend to attract people who are not all that swift, combine that with arrogance, and it is a deadly brew. But year in any year out is the same thing.

    hate to say it, but democracy in the hands of a clueless electorate is dangerous.

  15. lisoosh says:

    “When politicians want to spend more money, they increase tax rates or borrow money. Taxpayers can’t.”
    Well that’s a crock of sh^t, taxpayers borrow money all the time, the problem is endemic, no wonder polititians don’t give it a second thought.

    -How do they count the illegals?

  16. James Bednar says:

    The underground community — which stretches from the northernmost Bergen County towns to the southern tip of New Jersey in Cape May — has overwhelmed some areas of the state, with up to 200 day laborers crowding streets in places like Bergenfield, Palisades Park and Morristown each day.

    I don’t get what is so complex here. Maybe I’m misunderstanding this, but it doesn’t seem there is any kind of “underground” community at all, especially if hundreds of them are simply standing around waiting for work..

    1) Police should simply repaint a swat van (paddy wagon?) to look like a contractor vehicle.

    2) Dress some officers in dirty overalls.

    3) Drive to these locations, and simply “hire” the day-laborers by the truckload.

    4) Drive them to a jail, a holding facility, etc.

    After all, we are talking about “illegal” aliens here, are we not?


  17. James Bednar says:

    Or, on the flip side. Dress officers in dirty overalls, and let them congregate among the day laborers. Once hired, they simply fine the employer that willingly and knowingly hired an “illegal”.


  18. James Bednar says:

    I’m sure that I will be labeled a ‘bad guy’.


  19. DE says:

    How about we sell part of New Jersey to PA or NY or maybe Delaware. How much could we get for say Warren county.

    It comes down to this Mr. Corzine.

    STOP SPENDING!!!!!!!!!

  20. DE says:

    JB you’re not a bad guy ILLEGAL immigrants are destroying the state.

    They don’t pay taxes except when they buy something they are probably sending most of their earnings back home. Their kids go to school for free. They get free medical care. Illegal immigrants will cost us more in the long run.

    I just finished my taxes and I am still amazed every year at how much I pay to the government Federal and State. And if I have medical expenses I can’t even deduct them unless they are in excess of 7.5% of my AGI.

    I do however feel bad for the legal immigrants who are trying to do everything by the law and are having trouble because of all the illegal immigrants.

  21. AntiTrump says:


    Bush has a better idea. How about we grant amnesty to the whole lot and then give them a path to citizenship. That way, he has a nice collective vote back to rely on.

    I am being sarcastic by the way. Folks for the record, I am not against immigration. I just think everyone should go through the legal due process and come in as legal immigrants. It’s not against immigration. It’s about being fair to the thousand of people who have waited many many years to come in as legal immigrants who pay their taxes and contribute to social security and medicare.

  22. James Bednar says:

    I am in no way anti-immigration.


  23. SG says:

    I think the whole Illegal Immigration issue becomes big in states like CA, NJ etc.. is due to our local state government policies.

    My observation is that both CA & NJ have worst policies for Businesses and very high cost of living. Both of these scenarios encourage small businesses to hire illegals as means to reduce cost. Today many small business owners will go bankrupt, if they have to hire people at prevailing wage and provide all mandatory benefits. I think to reduce illegal Immgration issue, state should make policies that provide more incentive to hire locals.

  24. Bystander says:

    Going after illegal aliens is a waste of time. As long as there are jobs and homes available to them, they will come. When your choice is literally starving, lifetime unemployment, and no medical care, people will come here.

    How many nannies, restaurant workers, landscapers, house painters, construction workers are here illegally? How come no one asks when they are working on your house, minding your kids or serving you food? Or renting an apartment from you? Oh yeah, it is terrible to have them here until you have to pay the full freight.

    Why not make like miserable for those that use them?

    Rent houses to illegal aliens? Lose the house.
    Hire an undocumented alien to be your housekeeper or nanny? 15K fine per person/incident.
    Hire one and pay less than minimum wage w/ no insurance? How does 20K fine per person/incident, loss of business license sound?

    That might fix things a bit quicker. Illegal aliens have nothing to lose. Lock them up then send them back? So what? What choice do they have? Sit at home and rot or take a chance at a better life? They will keep coming unless there is no incentive to be here. You have to go after those who are profiting from it.

    I am all for making illegal immigration more difficult but going after alien is backwards, first go after the deadbeats and tax dodgers using them.

  25. AntiTrump says:

    #25 SG:

    Or make legal immigration easier.

  26. skep-tic says:


    the feds have jurisdiction when it comes to enforcing immigration laws

    not saying it’s right, but states have to rely on INS to enforce the law in this arena, unless illegals are committing crimes under state law for which they can be arrested

  27. NJDevils says:

    Just playing devils advocate for a moment, I have to wonder about the cost versus contribution of illegal immigrants. On one hand, they get free medical treatment, free school for the kids and they often don’t pay income taxes.

    On the other hand, they do pay sales tax and property taxes (at least indirectly through rent) and they are an inexpensive source of labor in a state where the cost of everything is high. I know a small business owner (manufacturing business)who tells me he would be forced to leave NJ if it weren’t for these workers. It’s the only advantage in NJ that balances out the other high costs. The jobs are minimum wage and he couldn’t find NJ citizens to take them even if he tried. He couldn’t pay more and stay in business. His workers even pay federal and state income taxes using “shared” SS#’s. Also, he and his business pay taxes.

    How much would the cost of living go up if all of these jobs were done by unionized NJ workers?

  28. skep-tic says:


    it seems ridiculous to me to say that breaking the law is ok because if you didn’t break the law, you’d go out of business.

    black market labor exploits both taxpayers and the workers themselves.

  29. AntiTrump says:

    #28 NJDevils:

    So you are proposing illigal immigration as a tool to fight wage inflation?

    I think making legal immigration easier is the way to go. It is better for the immigrants too as they will be guranteed the minimum wage.

    Illegal immigration is not a solution to the cost burden of our state. If you friend has to his business to a lower cost state, it has to do with the f’d up nature or our state.

  30. bergenbubbleburst says:

    #28 NJ Devils: If they are living 20 or more to s single family residence, they are not paying theri fair share as far as property taxes.

    If they are living in multi-family units, the same applies. Multi family untis are structured differently for property tax purposes, and the rent they pay does not cover for the servies they receive.

    Sad to say, but these types of arrangements bring a town down, its just a fact.

  31. NJDevils says:

    “it seems ridiculous to me to say that breaking the law is ok”

    I didn’t say it was okay. I don’t advocate breaking the law. I’m just challenging the commonly accepted paradigm that illegal immigrants are a big drain on the economy and “killing NJ”.

    “So you are proposing illigal immigration as a tool to fight wage inflation?”

    No. I’m not proposing anything. I also think legal immigration is the way to go. I’m just asking how things would be different if it wasn’t for illegal immigrants? Are they really a drain or are they a low-cost source of labor that mitigates the high cost of living in NJ?

    “it has to do with the f’d up nature or our state.”

    Because it is a manufacturing business, he faces price competition from out of state companies operating in better business climates. You are right, illegal immigration is not the solution to NJ’s problems. However, given where we are today, he can either employ illegal immigrants, who pay taxes, as well as pay taxes for himself and his business to NJ, or he can leave NJ. Neither is an optimal solution, but which one is worse for the economy?

  32. Marito says:

    NJ.Com has a lot of information on property tax, but for somebody who has never lived in NJ it lacks the crucial one: how is the whole process implemented in the ground. I wonder if you guys can help me here.

    Of 4 towns that I’m looking at, 2 opted for assessing houses at half their market values and having brutally high tax rates; the other two have assessed values equal to market values, and tax rates that hover around 1.7 (all this according to NJ.Com, so I don’t know if those market prices are accurate, and how will they go if prices plummet)

    In Maplewood, according to this data, assessed value is 57.5% of market value and 2006 rate is 3.98
    In Fair Lawn AV is 46% and rate is 4.26%

    But those are averages, what concerns me is this: this averaging comes from some people in the town having assessments dating back to 1990 and riding in the backs of people with assessments that are current with the market? In other words, if I buy a very affordable 350K home in Maplewood, do I immediately risk being assessed at 350 and killed with a property tax of 14K?

  33. bergenbubbleburst says:

    #33 marito Property tax of 14k is common In Maplewood, and I might addd a waste of your hard earned money.

  34. readytobolt says:

    Some states (notably colorado) have laws limiting the increase in state budgets YOY to a few percent.

  35. Marito says:

    Does anybody have some concrete information about the way property assesments are done for the purpose of setting property tax? Should I contact the tax assessor’s office?

    I know 14K taxes are common in Maplewood, and outrageous too! What I would want to know is if such taxes are levied on houses that would be listed at 350 or 400K today, or houses that would list for 700 or 750K.

  36. RentinginNJ says:


    As you described, property taxes are determined using 2 components; assessed value and the tax rate. The state constitution requires that all property in a town be taxed on a level playing field. So no, you don’t have homeowners with a 1990 assessment getting a free ride on the backs of people with more recent assessments. They would discount the current assessment to put it in a comparable range with other similar homes.

    Towns differ based on the last time they did an assessment. Towns with old assessments typically have low assessed values and high tax rates and vice versa.

    You do, however, need to be careful about buying in a town with an old assessment. This is especially true for starter homes. Starter home appreciated at a greater rate than larger homes and a much greater rate than commercial property over the last few years. You could see a big tax increase.

    Go to gsmls.com and look up homes in Maplewood. They list the property taxes. A $350 will not likely have $14k taxes.

  37. Marito says:

    Thanks, RentinginNJ!

    I should go the same way as you and Rent in NJ for a while, before the crunch of renting in NYC finishes me off. I did go to the gsmls and saw the actual taxes that the sellers were listing. If they were listing honestly, their assessments were sooo old that they were getting relatively reasonable taxes (the houses themselves were the cheapest in the town, with all that that implies). It was ballpark 5.5 or 6K for 340K houses, but of course beware of a new assessment next year!

  38. Marito says:

    So why are people ranting so much about Maplewood’s taxes? I mean, other towns seem to be doing the same or even worst. Fair Lawn for one.

  39. bergenbubbleburst says:

    Fairlawn is a much better town than Maplewood. Goo scholls, very good high school. No real crime issues.

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