NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 5, 2009

When Barack Obama makes his New Year's resolutions, at the top of his list ought to be the following: "I will not allow America to become New Jersey."

Other states offer promising experiments in areas such as Medicaid, taxes, education and regulatory reform. In contrast, New Jersey offers America something truly unique: the perfect bad example.

For years, the solons in our state capital have operated on the assumption that you can have high taxes everywhere -- on income, on property, on business -- without suffering any consequences.   Gov. Jon Corzine is now dealing with those consequences, and his budgets show it.  According to the Tax Foundation:

  • New Jersey is home to the most hostile tax environment for business in the nation.
  • It also bear the nation's highest burden of state and local taxes; on the list of the 10 counties with the highest median property tax, we claim seven of them, says McGurn.

During the last recession, New Jersey began to feel the full weight of these burdens. Other states responded by cutting back on spending and getting their houses in order. Not New Jersey. Then-Gov. Jim McGreevey added to the burden by borrowing and spending and raising the corporate tax -- including the imposition of an alternative minimum tax on business.  And we've been paying for these bad choices ever since.

Absent a thorough-going revolution in Trenton, New Jersey may be lost for some time to come. But if Mr. Obama can learn from our bad example and do the opposite, New Jersey's loss might yet be America's gain.

Source: William McGurn, "New Jersey is the Perfect Bad Example," Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2008.

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