Ever since Governor Christie decided to remove any reference to his once-vaunted “New Jersey Comeback” from his keynote address to the Republican National Convention last month, the news has been nothing but bad about the state’s economy.
Now, scarcely a day goes without another troubling story showing New Jersey sinking deeper into a fiscal hole.
Despite the governor’s cheerleading, the facts are startling.
Our unemployment rate is now up to 9.9 percent – 47th worst in the nation – trailing only California, Nevada, and Rhode Island, and nearly two points above the national average.
Tax revenues are plummeting – down $100 million from the governor’s rosy projections in the first two months of this fiscal year alone. As a result, Standard & Poor’s, a major bond rating agency, has downgraded New Jersey’s credit outlook from “stable” to “negative,” meaning we will almost certainly be paying even higher interest rates on public bonds.
Yet Christie still insists on $1.5 billion in annual tax cuts that we obviously cannot afford, which earns him an “F” in any math class. And, true to character, he wants most of those tax cuts to go to the wealthiest residents of New Jersey.
That leads to the final bit of bad news. U.S. Census data show that New Jersey’s middle class is shrinking faster than the polar ice caps, while the percentage of both richer and poorer households is increasing.
Only four years ago, one in 22 New Jersey residents received food stamps. Today, that figure has almost doubled to one in 12.
Clearly, something is terribly wrong in our state. There’s no “comeback,” and the governor knows it.
He needs to focus his energy on solving the state’s economic troubles, and he could benefit from some remedial math, because his numbers don’t add up.
A good first step would be to stop campaigning all over the nation to feather his future political nest, and come home to the state he was elected to lead, and whose problems he is expected to solve.