Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, January 14th, 2015.


The Results Are In: As Governor, Christie Sucks

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Republican Party

The economic recovery being enjoyed by most of the country has bypassed New Jersey.

Twenty-first century New Jersey is a state so disconnected from the national narrative of “recovery” it might as well be its own country. The fact that the major media has ignored this story for so long is a tribute to Governor Christie’s prowess as a great entertainer. Not since the arrival of the Great Pandas from China has the major media been so distracted by sideshow antics.

New Jersey is only one of three states where poverty has gone up according to the latest U.S. Census data. (New Mexico and Washington are the two others.) Back in 2007, 8.6 percent of the state lived below the poverty line. That went up to 9.4 percent in 2009 and in 2013 hit 11.4 percent.

New Jersey was positioned to be in better shape than this. I lived in NJ from 1983 to 2000. It had a healthy mix of industry, lots of corporate headquarters, lots of office operations that had moved from Manhattan to save expenses. A lot of consumer product companies had their product development operations in New Jersey, and there were labs doing more basic scientific research. And, of course, Manhattan is right there. Lots of people work in the City and live in New Jersey, and lots of companies used office space in New Jersey but could still do business in New York.

When Christie took office in 2010, of course the state had been smacked hard by the financial crisis. The population of the state had been shrinking slowly for some time, but before Christie took office this had turned into a regular diaspora. And one of his campaign promises was to stop the flow.

“People are leaving the state in droves, businesses are leaving this state in droves and taking their jobs with them. That’s why we have the worst unemployment rate in 33 years,” Christie charged.

Scroll forward six years, as Gov. Christie is set to give his second state of the state in his second term, and the exodus continues — and for good reason. According to United Van Lines’ annual analysis of national migration data, they booked 4,003 outbound moves from Jersey but posted only 2,169 incoming. 2014 was the fourth time in the last five years that New Jersey topped the nation for out migration according to United Van Lines.

Late last year a Monmouth University/ Asbury Park Press poll found that half of the New Jersey residents surveyed wanted to leave the state more than five years after Christie was first elected. In the survey of 802 adults 54 percent identified the state’s cost of living and tax burden as the primary driver for their desire to relocate.

Even worse, the people who are leaving are the high income earners. Most of the people who are left are ALICEs. Asset Limited, Income Constrained, but Employed. Between ALICEs and the unemployed, about 40 percent of the people of the state are struggling to meet basic living expenses. And while New Jersey is cheaper than Manhattan, and taxes are lower than New York’s (as I remember),  it’s still expensive compared to the rest of the country.

The Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) rail tunnel that Christie killed would have done the state a lot of good, not only making it easier for New Jersey residents to take jobs in Manhattan but also making it easier for New Yorkers to shop in New Jersey and take advantage of lower sales taxes. As I understand it, with ARC people could have gone directly from midtown to the malls in Secaucus, easy peasy. Now, getting into New Jersey from Manhattan to shop on a Saturday is a major headache. As I noted a few days ago,

The project would have eased overcrowding in Penn Station by building a new rail station at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue on the West Side of Manhattan, and it would have generated 5,700 construction jobs and 44,000 permanent jobs, and increased home values in towns that would now have one-seat service to Manhattan, the study noted.

… And keep in mind that New Jersey under Christie has had terrible job growth numbers. Under Christie, New Jersey jobs growth has been among the slowest in the nation. I’m pretty sure New Jersey beats Kansas, but not many other states. Most damning is that New Jersey has lagged way behind all its neighboring states in jobs growth, especially Delaware and New York.

Like a lot of Republican governors Christie had been trying to create jobs by handing out tax break packages to big corporations, to limited results, but as far as manufacturing is concerned NJ can’t compete with the South — too expensive — and the research labs and product development facilities have been drying up as well.  And these are trends that started long before Christie took office, but his administration did zilch to slow the hemorrhage. Surrounding states were hit with similar challenges, but none have failed to meet those challenges as spectacularly as New Jersey.

I remember in the 1990s — remember the Clinton Administration? — McMansions were sprouting in New Jersey like flowers in spring. According to the article, there are so many empty and abandoned properties that in some communities the city government has taken over maintaining lawns and at least making cosmetic repairs to abandoned homes so that entire neighborhoods don’t go to seed.

Way to go, Chris Christie.

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