I lived in Boston as a college student in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Working in politics promoting Republican candidates for the legislature and for the governor, we embraced the term "Taxachusetts" as a way of slamming the Democratic majority for taxing people out of the state. It was a well deserved reputation. But not so much today.
Unfortunately, in the years since Governor Romney left, the state is working hard to regain the "tax" title, but we can learn from the actions taken by strong governors over the years.

In 1990, Bill Weld was elected Governor and the journey to recovery was underway. Cutting taxes and vetoing the minimum wage were among the actions the new Governor pursued. Unlike our own NJ Republican Governor who was more interested in his own personal ambition that fixing our state, Weld was strong enough to help elevate his LG to the top post, first as a succession when Weld became a US ambassador, but then in his own right when Paul Celluci was voted to remain as Governor in 1998.

What can we learn from our friends in New England? First, you can cut taxes even with a Democratic majority in the legislature. Second, tough leadership from the executive can solve an affordability crisis. They did it in MA. Even today, there are efficiency being implemented making lives easier for Bay Staters.

On our recent trip through Massachusetts en-route to Vermont, it was nice to travel the Mass Turnpike with no toll booths. Tolls are collected electronically through readers above the highway. No congestion at the exit ramps, no slow down to thread a needle through the booths only to be stuck behind the guy without EZ Pass trying to back up in traffic to switch lanes. Nope. None of that. Just easy driving. I'm not advocating to do away with tolls, as a matter of fact, just the opposite. Considering the amount of traffic flowing through New Jersey to travel between New York, Boston and DC, why not offset some of the burden on NJ taxpayers and raise the tolls? We already have an incredible efficient Turnpike management throwing off hundreds of millions in surplus annually. Maybe tweak it a little bit? Cut costs by eliminating the toll booths and collectors and then uptick the toll? I realize that it's a bad time to be discussing revenue while government costs are completely out-of-control, but the idea of a user-fee that lightens the burden on resident taxpayers is always preferable. That and the efficiency and modern technologist employed by other states should be a model for progress in NJ. Unfortunately in our state, the bureaucrats and the politicians for sale to the special interests are in charge. We'll get the higher tolls, AND your taxes will continue to rise.

Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea.

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