NJ Spotlight: Is NJ's $1.2B School Transportation System Ripe for Savings?

NJSpotlight.com’s John Reitmeyer reports on the latest report in GSI’s series on the true cost of New Jersey’s government and opportunities for savings: Adding It All Up: New Jersey’s Opportunity to Reduce $200 Million in School Transportation Costs:

“taxpayers could see annual savings of as much as $146 million with better use of technology and more consolidation of student bus services, according to a new report that analyzes everything from how the state’s school districts hire bus drivers to how they design daily routes.“

NJ Spotlight: Sweeney Seizes the Mic, Holds His Own Town Halls, But Where's Murphy?

John Reitmeyer of NJSpotlight.com takes a look at the contrasting style of Senate President Steve Sweeney and Governor Phil Murphy as they approach the state’s upcoming budget season. The Senate President has been aggressively holding town hall events to discuss his Path to Progress NJ proposal to reform the state’s finances, while the Governor has been sticking to scripted and tightly choreographed events.

NY Post: High taxes are driving away the tri-state golden geese

In a New York Post op-ed, famed economists Dr. Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore revisit their predictions on the impact of federal tax reform on high tax, big spending states like New Jersey:

“We are sticking with our warnings from last year, which are turning out to have been spot-on. If the tri-state area doesn’t reverse its taxing ways, let alone makes things worse every year, these once prosperous and dynamic states will be fiscally bled to death as tens of thousands more rich taxpayers leave.

They will escape Greenwich, Long Island and the Jersey Shore for places with warmer weather, more sunshine and income taxes as low as zero. Cuomo was right: This is “as serious as a heart ­attack.” Why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?”

APP.com: NJ's $117 billion spending problem, writ large: Bergmann

Opinion Editor Randy Bergmann of the Asbury Park Press (APP.com) writes on the Adding It All Up report issued by Garden State Initiative this week:

“Commissioned by the conservative think tank Garden State Initiative, the report reinforces my long-held belief that New Jersey doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.  The state’s $34.7 billion budget represents only about one third of all the money raised by New Jersey's 1,522 government entities – 21 counties, 565 municipalities, 590 school districts, 88 charter schools, and 257 authorities, boards and commissions. As the report notes, there is one government entity for every 6,000 New Jersey residents.” 

NJBIZ: REPORT SUGGESTS NJ GOVERNMENT GROUPS CUT DOWN THEIR $117B IN SPENDING

NJBiz.com’s Daniel J. Munoz reviewed Garden State Initiative’s new research report: Adding It All Up: An Impartial Look at New Jersey’s $117 Billion Government:

“GSI, according to the report, plans to scrutinize spending on student-transportation services, school facilities, government inspection and the road maintenance process as areas of potential savings at upwards of $1 billion.”

“Why do four different layers of government need to plow the streets?” reads the report. “Why do so many school districts need to manage their own student transportation needs?”

NJ SPOTLIGHT: A RIVER OF CASH: ANALYZING NJ'S MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR REVENUE STREAMS

NJSpotlight.com’s John Reitmeyer took a deep-dive into Garden State Initiative’s new research report - Adding It All Up: An Impartial Look at New Jersey’s $117 Billion Government:

“The goal of the Morristown-based group’s complicated accounting exercise was to determine just how much it costs to deliver government services in New Jersey. The report also sets the table for a deeper analysis of whether residents are getting bang for their buck. The group is promising to issue follow-up reports exploring ways governments can save money with specific efficiencies. GSI believes it will be able to identify opportunities for at least $1 billion in potential cuts in the coming weeks.”

NJ SPOTLIGHT: TREASURY NOT WORRIED ABOUT SLOW REVENUE GROWTH IN EARLY FY16 -SHOULD IT BE?

John Reitmeyer of NJ Spotlight writes on last week’s state revenue report which showed tax revenue coming in well below projections and cites analysis offered by GSI:

“But an analysis of the same tax-collection data by the Garden State Initiative, a right-leaning think tank based in Morristown, suggested only 2.1 percent growth in tax collections through the first half of the fiscal year is a cause for real concern. The pace of growth will have to “accelerate geometrically” through the final six months of the fiscal year to meet the year-end goal of 7.5 percent, the group’s analysis said. “

APP.com: Opinion: N.J. needs a (budget) fix: Sweeney

In an op-ed published in the Asbury Park Press , Senate President Steve Sweeney illustrates the urgent need for New Jersey to address its $150 billion unfunded liability for public employee pension and benefits through the bi-partisan reforms suggested by the Path to Progress NJ report. While the pension fund can go bankrupt, the state cannot - leaving taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars of debt that can only be paid by massive tax increases that would impact every family in the state.

NJ Spotlight: New Jersey's Near-Term Economic Outlook: Glass Half Empty or Half Full

John Reitmeyer of NJ Spotlight writes on the outlook for New Jersey’s economy in 2019, with analysis offered by GSI’s president Regina Egea:

“But Regina Egea, president of the Garden State Initiative, a right-leaning think tank based in Morristown, suggested there is also some cause for concern in her own recent assessment of the state economy. A former state Treasury official who served under Republican Gov. Chris Christie, Egea said growth in the state’s overall labor market is still trailing the nation’s as a whole. Murphy’s refusal to rule out new tax hikes in 2019 is also a concern, she said.

“We continue to see the effects of a hostile climate for business, and the governor’s threat of new and higher taxes creates an environment of uncertainty for residents and businesses,” Egea said.”

Press of Atlantic City: State economy should worry South Jersey more than volatile stocks

In analyzing the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s annual Business Outlook Survey, the editorial board of the Press of Atlantic City cites numerous factors for the residents of South Jersey to be concerned about for the region’s economy - most originate from state government in Trenton in the form of taxes, regulation and higher labor costs.

APP.com: Opinion: N.J. pensions: State must deal with budget's third rail

In an op-ed published in the Asbury Park Press, Richard F. Keevey, the former budget director and comptroller for New Jersey appointed by two governors from each political party, outlines the dire fiscal straights ahead for the Garden State and offers an endorsement of the pension and benefit reforms offered by Senate President Steve Sweeney in his working group’s Path to Progress NJ report.

Courier News: NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney says it's time to 'fix New Jersey'

If nothing is done to address New Jersey’s crippling pension and benefits liabilities there will “not be many people left” in New Jersey.

That’s the stark message the Bridgewater Courier News took away from a recent visit by New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney to the Somerset County Employer Legislative Committee where he discussed the Path to Progress NJ proposals to address New Jersey’s looming fiscal crisis.

NJ Spotlight: With Amazon HQ2 Not Likely to Land in Newark, Talk Turns to Taxes, Incentives

NJ Spotlight: With Amazon HQ2 Not Likely to Land in Newark, Talk Turns to Taxes, Incentives

Now that Amazon has announced that its HQ2 project will not be coming to Newark, John Reitmeyer of NJ Spotlight writes that some elected officials, like Governor Murphy, suggest that it was an achievement for Brick City to even be a finalist for the massive project, as if New Jersey should be content with a participation trophy. Other elected officials see it differently as a commentary on New Jersey’s onerous corporate taxes and high cost of living.

National Review: Conn. Lost $2.6 Billion in 2016 Revenue Due to High Earners Leaving State

At Garden State Initiative, we’ve researched how the state of Connecticut represents a cautionary tale for New Jersey’s leaders. In analyzing a recent report by the Cato Institute, National Review Online’s Jack Crowe, takes a look at how migration from the high-tax Nutmeg State is shaping that state’s governor’s race.

NJ Spotlight: S&P Notes Progress but Ranks NJ's Among Worst Funded Pension Systems

New Jersey’s unfunded pension liability continues to be the “800 pound gorilla” in the room for our state’s fiscal and economic future. As reported by John Reitmeyer in NJSpotlight.com, a recent report by S&P Global found that, although there has been some minor progress, our pension system's funding ratio is second-to-last among all U.S. states and places dead last for funding even the bare minimum of its growing pension costs.

APP.com: Opinion: Without benefits reform, Murphy economic goals unachievable

In an op-ed published on the website of the Asbury Park Press, Peter Reinhart, director of the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University, chair of New Jersey Future and a member of the Economic and Fiscal Policy Working Group, takes a look at Governor Phil Murphy’s calls for New Jersey to develop an “innovation economy” without addressing the state’s ongoing public employee pension and benefits crisis.

APP.com: What about the business tax climate?

In an editorial that ran in the Asbury Park Press and other Gannet New Jersey newspapers, the news organization looks askance at Governor Murphy’s economic policy speech on Monday sighting a lack of attention to the state’s skyrocketing taxes, especially as the state is poised to have highest corporate taxes in the nation, and a lack of specifics surrounding his proposals. They also found great irony in the speech taking place on a date when the state’s gas tax was increasing yet again and a number of new taxes were going into effect.

Press of Atlantic City: Murphy Should Stop Vicious Circle of Gas Tax Increases

The editorial board of the Press of Atlantic City calls upon Governor Phil Murphy to work with the legislature to address the possibility of cascading gasoline tax increases leading to New Jersey having the highest gasoline tax in the nation. The newspaper cites the impact that the tax has had on the competitiveness of the state’s gasoline retailers and the possibility that the tax revenue may be diverted from its intended purpose.