Opinion: The Actual State of the State | Aaron Neuman

On Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy delivered the annual State of the State address in front of a joint session of New Jersey’s Senate and Assembly. He began by claiming that he had planned to give a “very different speech”, but that an audit of New Jersey’s corporate tax incentives released last week showed that this is “not a time for business as usual”. Although Murphy said that he is “not opposed” to tax incentives, he believes that the way New Jersey’s tax incentives are currently structured rewards those with connections while the average taxpayer pays the price. He said that New Jersey and it’s workers are losing billions of dollars due to unfair tax breaks provided by the Christie administration to companies in an attempt to lure them to the state.

In order to alleviate the financial strain supposedly foisted upon the middle class by these tax incentives, Governor Murphy wants to raise taxes on companies, this following a tax hike on those making over $5 million per year which passed last year.

Here’s the truth of the matter: Murphy is using financial incentives given to companies as an excuse to raise taxes which he wanted to do anyways. Using companies who would otherwise not be in New Jersey as scapegoats, the governor is laying the groundwork to make his agenda of skyrocketing New Jersey residents’ taxes politically palatable.

Murphy feels the need to do so because he is facing a serious money crunch. His analysts projected New Jersey’s revenues to grow by over 6%. They weren’t even close. Actual revenues grew by less than 2%. New Jersey’s coffers need an influx of hundreds of millions of dollars just to be able to keep the budget at current levels of funding. With Governor Murphy giving his budget plan to NJ’s lawmakers on March 5th, he will need to show how he will bring in enough revenue to pay for his proposed plans, hence the need to raise taxes, and hence the need for a scapegoat to blame those tax hikes on. Without huge tax hikes, New Jersey will most probably be facing a budget deficit in the billions.

But even if Murphy manages to get New Jersey’s coffers to be filled by raising taxes, a move that will not find a warm welcome among both Republicans and Democrats, it won’t be enough to cover his ideas. Once given money, he will throw it directly at another of his ridiculous ideas. As an example, during his speech today, he pushed for illegal immigrants to be able to get driver’s licenses. Think of the absurdity – our taxes will go to pay for licenses for people who don’t pay taxes. And what will happen when they need car insurance? Will Murphy want us to pay that too? Probably.

It would be wise to recall the words of the economist Milton Friedman: “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both”. Ever- rising taxes constrains the freedoms of New Jersey’s residents. It makes us forever subservient to a government wishing to spend, spend, and spend our money some more, almost always on worthless agendas and priorities from which the average person receives no benefit.

The actual state of New Jersey is that it has an economically illiterate governor, a man who seems to think that wishing economic principles didn’t exist will make them disappear. Murphy is an out of control, out of touch politician. He paints himself as “progressive”, but to him progressive apparently means severely in debt. Is it time for a recall?

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