Is New Jersey doomed?
I'm sitting hear thinking about the old expression, "Would the last one to leave New Jersey please turn out the lights?" I just read that New Jersey's fiscal health is now so awful we have been ranked dead last of all 50 states. This is the kind of thing you used to associate with Mississippi or Alabama. Nope. It's now us.
The information comes from a report issued by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center called "Fiscal Condition" and the news is not good. Due to a variety of factors, including in no small part our underfunded public employee pension system, my home state has dropped several rungs down the fiscal health ladder all the way to the bottom. The report also cites significant debt and many other budget problems plus a lack of any meaningful surplus to absorb unexpected revenue shortfalls. Shortfalls which happen all the time mind you. We ranked 49th in budget solvency and 50th in long term solvency.
How do we get out of this? It's already depressing enough that our highest in the nation property taxes force people to retire elsewhere and make those working people still trying to live here feel like we're constantly drowning. As more and more people move away from New Jersey the population is being refreshed by an immigrant population that seems accepting of a struggle to merely survive. We who grew up here expected slightly more than that.
I want my children to love New Jersey and look for the good. That list of good is getting shorter though. I wonder by the time my littlest one is graduating high school, what will be left of this state? Do we really expect the next few governors to make any radical changes? Phil Murphy recently was outpacing Kim Guadagno by 27 points if the election were held that day. Either way, would either one of these people foment the radical change needed to course correct? The incumbent legislators continue to hang on to power despite all the talk of "remembering in November."
I love the culture here but the I don't love the economic realities. Is there any way out of this dark room we're in? Stay tuned...