That's right, New Jersey.

As I reflect on another year passing by quickly, I wanted to take a minute to thank you.

Thank you for being a part of the largest audience in the state. Thankful for the daily interactions, on the show, the app, and through social media.

YOU are the reason that we've been successful in hosting the top morning show in the Garden State and the fastest-growing, strongest advocacy organization in Jersey.

My commitment to you is that I will continue to work tirelessly every day to spread the word of what we need to do to bring New Jersey back.

We've seen major issues over the past few years that make NJ less affordable and appealing to average people.

The intrusion of government between parents and kids, the rising cost of just about everything, and the increase in certain crimes are all leading many people to reconsider "diggin in".

For me and my family, we're looking forward to the continuing conversation and subsequent action to reverse so many of the damaging policies that are causing the exodus.

Creating Safe Neighborhoods

Ending "bail reform" which has created a revolving door for criminals, enforcing federal detainer orders, and changing the rules of engagement to empower police officers will all be necessary to make sure that every law-abiding New Jerseyan feels safe in their community.

We need to increase the number of NJ State Troopers and help local communities struggling with the cost of municipal departments by offering the NJSP as an added resource. We'll end the sanctuary state status and massive payouts to people here illegally.

This is a federal problem that should not fall to NJ taxpayers. With so many criminals being given a pass, it's no wonder many NJ residents no longer feel 100% safe in their homes.

The government's first function is to provide that protection and security and we need to return to that immediately if not sooner. Beyond law enforcement, safety from flooding is something that many communities in Central and South Jersey are looking for. Unfortunately, the DEP is standing in the way.

We need to clean up our local rivers, dredge where appropriate, and shore up the banks to prevent the overflow and collapse of trees that impede the water flow. Local towns are ready, willing, and able to get the job done, but we need to get the DEP out of the way. It's one thing to look out for polluters, it's quite another to stop locals from implementing flood prevention measures.

Lowering property taxes

The affordability issue is another critical action required to rebuild our state's economic engines. The plan is to stop the endless flow of tax dollars to the outdated pensions that offer very little actual financial security for workers in the future.

We'll start by addressing wasteful spending. Canceling the billion-dollar subsidy to Rutgers whose budget continues to rise dramatically without accountability, ending the "no strings attached" budget gap payments that prop up a less-than-stellar NJ Transit system, and addressing the education crisis in our cities which pulls an increasing amount of money away from suburban schools.

If we can lower the cost of education in Newark, Trenton, and other urban NJ areas, we can lower the state subsidy.

Then let's return that money to the communities who have been paying for the failing city schools for decades. Creating opportunities for parents to choose alternative education: private, micro, parochial, home-school, etc, will allow up to lower the public school burden, cut administrative bloat, and return local tax dollars to taxpayers.

Imagine a return of 10-20% of your property taxes every year! This plan is also based on increasing state tax revenue. And we're gonna do that by increasing the number of taxpayers by LOWERING the business taxes that are crushing economic growth and driving entrepreneurs and businesses out of New Jersey.

We also need to restructure public pensions to draw a line between those who should be converted to 403(b) plans and those who should remain in the current plan. We need to reinvest our dollars away from wasteful spending and provide a cost-of-living adjustment to our first responders. All possible and affordable, while lowering your taxes.

The plan to lower taxes is simple, but challenging as the special interests who have been living off of you for decades will fight back, but in the end, we are going to restore sanity to NJ finances.

Empowering families

Mom and Dad need to make the decisions that impact their kids. Schools can and should play a role, but I've never met a teacher who signed up to "co-parent".

Regardless of your opinion on the curriculum and the whole debate over transgenderism, we can all agree that parental involvement is the critical component to providing a safe and effective learning environment for kids. Beyond that, we need to make government work for those who pay the bills to cover the costs.

Motor Vehicle needs to be streamlined. CDL drivers and new licensees shouldn't be waiting for endless hours or months to get a new license or renewal.

The Department of Labor needs to step up and handle unemployment claims in real-time.

The Department of Education should be providing guidance for schools to implement a true education, reading, math, history, science, and practical knowledge on financial literacy, agriculture/nutrition, and home economics.

We need to bring in private investments to help offset the tax burden on working and middle-class families, specifically when it comes to our service delivery, highways, and public transportation.

The next administration must base all decisions and spending on one question, does the action help lower the costs and provide a critical service to New Jersey residents?

NJ school districts with the highest median teacher salaries

These were the highest median teacher salaries during the 2022-23 school year budget, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Department of Education. We begin with districts whose median salaries are at least $95,000 and work our way up to the highest median salary.

Gallery Credit: New Jersey 101.5

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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