I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Casual BS of Chris Christie - Is NJ the Highest Spending State?

So I'm gearing up for Pension Week here (yes, I'm bursting with excitement, too), and I come across the video down below.

We already know Christie keeps saying we're "the most overtaxed people in America," (4:28). And we know that's not true.

Here he claims: "We spend more on providing services... " (5:53).

Is it true? Is our spending the highest in the nation?

Well, here's a nifty little interactive map that compares state sending and taxes; where does NJ stack up (#1 rank means highest taxes or spending)?

Spending per capita is total state and local government spending spread over a state's population.
NJ Rank: 6

Spending burden is total state and local government spending as a share of total state personal income.
NJ Rank: 40

Tax burden per capita is total tax collections spread over population.
NJ Rank: 5

Tax burden on income is the bite that all taxes take on state's total personal income.
NJ Rank: 8

Tax Reliance is taxes as a share of overall (non-federal) revenue.
NJ Rank: 2

Fee reliance is taxes as a share of overall (non-federal) revenue.
NJ Rank: 46

This is a family blog, and I want to put this politely, but: Chris Christie is a BS artist. We don't "spend more on providing services" than every other state.

These numbers actually tell quite a tale. Our reliance on taxes and lack of reliance on fees means we put far more of our spending on the backs of taxpayers than other states. Since state and local taxes are regressive - especially the property tax, which we lean on very heavily - we shift more of our burden on to the middle class and working poor. I'm no expert on state/local spending (yet), but I'll guess the bulk of those fees aren't drivers licenses - they're fees paid by businesses, and likely large businesses.

Further, our high spending per capita combined with a low spending burden implies we are a high-income state (we are) that has to spend more to provide services because our costs are higher - but we keep our spending low as a percentage of our economy, which is where it really counts.

So let's cut the crap about our spending being so out of control, Governor - it isn't, at least not compared to other states.

ADDING: Sorry about the formatting here - Blogger gives me many, many headaches about this. Wordpress, I'm hearing your siren song...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I realize this is an old post, but I just saw the link to it on BlueJersey.

I think this and the CBPP report you cited share a quirk that make the fee reliance ranking questionable. In inter-state fees, the census bureau assesses them all to one state. I'm pretty sure that in the case of the port authority, those fees are all assessed to NY, driving up their ranking and driving down NJ's.

This includes your interstate bridges and tolls, plus all the landing fees at the airports. I'm not sure how systems like the PATH are calculated.