Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It takes more than one squeeze

It looks like Gov. Corzine was successful squeezing civil service unions to help patch the state deficit. Actually, the concessions seem reasonable: raise minimum retirement age to 60 for new workers, start making state workers contribute to their health insurance and pay more toward their own pensions.

But at the same time as reading this news, I was reading statistics showing New Jersey is last in the nation -- 50th -- in the return on our federal tax investment. We pay $1.79 to the federal government for every $1 worth of services here. That means we subsidize services in states such as the Carolinas and Georgia, where New Jerseyans are moving in droves in disgust of New Jersey politicians. But, it's too easy just to blame the politicians and say "throw the bums out." It doesn't solve the federal tax disparity, and we're right back to another election and "throw the bums out."

One of Corzine's selling points during the campaign for governor was that as a then-U.S. senator he might be in a better position than the others in both primary fields to find ways to get more value from our federal taxes. It has been a year and I'm growing impatient.

One place might be trying to get more federal dollars for the Abbott school districts. The belts have busted for state and local taxpayers subsidizing these bottomless pits. Poverty anywhere is a national problem for everyone, because poverty breeds crime and hides "terrorists" of all colors, religions and nationalities.

So, I'd like to ask Corzine's administration -- especially now with Dem majorities in the House and ever-so-slightly in the Senate -- when can we expect some federal rescue here to keep our best and brightest from fleeing for greener pastures in the states our tax dollars are subsidizing?

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