The state's transportation fund is just weeks away from possibly going bankrupt so you'd think lawmakers in New Jersey would be looking to close the hole that created the shortfall, but the state Assembly just voted to explode it.
The state Senate passed a measure that would raise the state's gas tax to fund transportation, but Governor Chris Christie said he would only sign it if they included generous tax cuts to go with it.
The Senate gave in to Governor Christie's demands, but the Assembly went much further last night hours after Christie made his demands. Just after midnight last night, the state Assembly voted to pass a package of over $1.6 billion in tax cuts. Moreover, no one actually read the bill before voting to pass it last night after most people have gone to sleep.
As it should, this vote is getting savaged by the Jersey media today.
And as late as 11:30 p.m. Monday night, an hour before the final vote, Assembly members clamoring for a copy of the bill were told it was not yet ready.
But a half hour after midnight, in a perverse show of bipartisanship, they voted to pass the bill. [...]
If you cover New Jersey for 20 years, you see some sausage making that can turn your stomach. Zombie legislators follow their marching orders, as their bosses cut craven deals at the last minute, with only politics in mind.
But this one goes into the record books. New Jersey has the nation's second lowest bond rating. But watch out, Illinois, we are going for the gold!
It seems only logical to me that if you pass a tax hike to fund a certain program and then pass tax cuts that are far larger than the tax hike, you're not doing yourself any favors. You're effectively kicking your own ass twice. What is even the point?
As the Star Ledger editorial board points out, the transportation shortfall is hardly the only budget shortfall the state is facing. The state is also facing shortfalls in education and pension funds.
All of this can be set against the backdrop of Governor Chris Christie's role as Donald Trump's McDonald's-fetching manservant. Polls have shown that Jersey voters don't believe Christie actually wants to be there and I don't think he does either. I believe Christie would resign and join the Trump administration in a hot second, leaving the state behind as a smoking crater of economic ruin without a second thought.
It feels like it was a lifetime ago, even though it was just three years, but I would be remiss not to remind everyone that the Star Ledger endorsed Chris Christie's reelection. It's good that they're keeping the governor honest, or at least trying to, but I won't soon forget their endorsement.