NJ Fiscal Folly

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More Of The Same

I find it difficult to take too seriously today's Codey-Roberts proposal for the NJ legislature to spend the summer working on property tax reform. There's no way to cut the Gordian knot unless Abbott district spending is significantly reduced. Any other version of property tax "reform" is simply an exercise in shifting the tax burden from one group to another. Any verbiage about revising school funding formulas is simply hot air unless non-Abbott districts get a larger share of taxpayer-funded school aid.

Municipal/school district consolidation/shared services is a worthy topic, but the potential savings are insignificant compared to Abbott districts, which are currently budgeted to receive 37% of all funds available for NJ property tax relief.

Pension reform is also a worthy topic, but it's really separate from property tax, and the issues are much broader than just curbing the obvious abuses. I don't know why the NJ legislature needs to look at this area yet again. There are already numerous specific proposals on the table.

I remain a skeptic regarding any NJ constitutional convention, for at least two reasons. First, the politicians and interest groups are continually trying to limit the scope of such a convention to state taxes, but to exclude any consideration of state spending. Second, I see a great potential for mischief in the whole amendment process.

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