July 1, 2003

New Jersey – Still “In

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:58 pm

New Jersey – Still “In Business.”
Narrowly avoiding a threatened state shutdown, New Jersey’s Legislators finally passed a budget several hours after constitutionally mandated deadline of July 1.

It is sickening.

In order to fund the $24 billion price tag, the budget includes $600 million in new taxes. While the complete list of new taxes remains to be seen, a large portion of the money will come from New Jersey’s casinos, with Donald Trump and his three casinos somehow paying about half of what the Las Vegas-based casinos are paying. During the partisan fight that preceded the budget sessions, Republicans had charged that Governor McGreevey was doing his buddy, The Donald, a huge, political favor. I suspect that the criticism was well placed.

In their never-ending quest for money for the state to piss away, the Legislators turned to the old-standby. Yep. Let’s tax the smokers yet again. Now, smokers will pay an additional $0.55 in tax on a pack of cigarettes. This brings the State’s cut per pack up to $2.05, the highest in the nation. Taxes on hotel stays and billboards were also included in the legislation.

About $80 million of the new taxes will be used to fund “pet projects” in the home districts of the horse-trading pols in Trenton. Approximately one third of that amount will go to Camden County, which just happens to be the home district of both budget committee chairmen.

The Governor had threatened to shut down the state, except for essential services, if a budget was not passed by the deadline. It would appear that this threat was not getting sufficient attention from the people and the casinos, so he decided to play hardball and announced that the first state workers who would ordered to stay home would be the casino regulators. This would have shut down Atlantic City’s casinos and prevented the newest one from opening this coming Thursday. Apparently Garden Staters who didn’t much give a damn if the Division of Motor Vehicles shut down or other state agencies, where employees are not known for doing much heavy lifting, gave their employees an unpaid vacation. But, shut down the casinos? Horror of horrors. That got everyone’s attention, and it served to remind the casinos that the Governor is the Capo when it comes to the action in Atlantic City.

New Jersey’s voters, who would elect Dart Vader if he ran as a democrat, are getting exactly what they deserve. Unfortunately, the rest of us are just getting hosed.

I, for one, will never forget the contempt for New Jersey taxpayers that Governor McGreevey showed when he blew $105,000 of taxpayers’ money on a trip to Ireland that included a family reunion for a dozen or so of his relatives. I am sure that they are still talking about the day their rich American cousin came to town and threw a helluva party.

If they only knew.

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