According to State Senator Steve Oroho, the cure to fixing New Jersey's decaying roads and infrastructure is to cut taxes on rich people, increase taxes on the middle class and poor, and to make it all palatable by creating a flim-flam income tax rebate program that makes it look like we're getting some of the money back.
This has a familiar sound. It’s like the state's real estate tax rebate program -- you know, the scheme that was supposed to lower our real estate taxes by turning our tax money over to a bureaucratic gristmill that is supposed to return some of the money to the original homeowner/taxpayers who paid it in the first place. And we all know how well that program is working!
It's beginning to look like Oroho's cure for any of our state's ills is to cut taxes on the rich. Actually, we've been doing exactly that for the last decade or so. Unfortunately, that trickle down approach has led to a near total depletion of the New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund, which was supposed to be a "lock box" for taxes paid by users of our highways to maintain them.
Unfortunately, Governor Chris Christie paid no attention to the TTF "lock box"; just like he paid no attention to real estate rebate "lock box". He consistently raided these "lock boxes" to balance his budget. His goal was to cut taxes on the rich and to provide humungous subsidies to big business while scrapping the bottom of the barrel to fund general government operations. The governor ducked the need to generate the revenue he needed to pay for state services, and his corporate welfare largesse, and he got away with it.
Let’s recall that Oroho cheered Christie’s veto of the continuation a small surcharge on income taxes paid by the state's richest. The revenue the Governor chucked aside with his veto would have ameliorated the financial crisis that New Jersey faces right now. If you share Christie’s view that there is no crisis, check with the bond ratings firms that have downgraded the state's borrowing status nine times during Christie's tenure. These slaps at our credit rating are the result of Christie’s use of his line item veto to create unrealistic budgets based on pollyana income projections.
What makes Oroho think it's not going to happen again? It looks like wishful thinking almost on a par with the Governor's adamant refusal to recognize that we are in a crisis. Our roads, bridges and other infrastructure are tragically decayed, and the governor has no interest in finding means to pay for fixing them.
If we need a gas tax to fix roads, we need a gas tax. We don't need a reduction in other taxes the state can't do without. And we don't need costly candy coating in the form of yet another vulnerable "lock box" for Christie to tap into when he decides do so.
Senator Oroho expressed his ideas in Sunday’s New Jersey Herald.