Tuesday is election day. It's kind of big here in New Jersey, since we'll be electing a governor. Without going into any political detail, the incumbent Jon Corzine is supposedly hated by the electorate and it's a close race between him and Republican Chris Christie.
As usually happens in these situations, the sitting governor has made a lot of controversial decisions including scaling back the property tax rebate and increasing the state's sales tax to 7%. All of this came in the wake of a huge state budget deficit and we are led to believe that if those and other steps were not taken the state could be on the road to bankruptcy.
When a guy puts the state on the back of the taxpayers the guy running against him has a relatively easy time convincing voters that the state needs to change. He'll run out a lot of promises about lowering taxes and making things right again. That's an easy campaign to run and an even easier one to win, since none of us likes to have anything we pay be increased.
So, Christie makes it sound like he's going to be everybody's best friend and still manage to put the state back on track. Those two things would seem to be politically impossible, but he's working with a group of voters who are tired of paying for things and it's possible that he could be our next governor.
There is also a ballot question that asks us to vote on a referendum to secure money to buy open space and slow the growth of development in the state. That sounds like a good idea. Since the state can't come up with enough money to purchase land to develop, the property owners always go with the offer from the developer and sell their property for a high price so that someone can build homes, stores or something that isn't trees, grass or farmland. The state needs to raise more money to keep property from being developed, and the only way they can outbid the developers is to ask us to give it to them.
The opponents say that voting yes will raise our taxes, and we should vote no because we don't want to have our taxes raised. What they fail to tell us is that more homes means more police, fire and other services that are paid for out of ... anyone ... tax money. Developing land for commercial or residential use requires more services from government. Government services are paid for from tax money and taxes always go up. But it's easy to get people to vote no for ballot questions, since a no vote usually means that we're against something that we don't want, and we don't want higher taxes. But taxes never go down regardless of how we vote or whom we elect.
So, we have an election with two easily winnable contests, unless voters are smart enough to realize something my economics professor told me. "No new taxes means no new services."
My fear is that 51% of us aren't smart enough to realize that.