We now have "big government" in NJ

Jim O’Neill, the superintendent of schools in the Chathams, made an interesting point in a recent column.

Why, he asked, are local Republicans not complaining about the many mandates coming out of Trenton?

I disagreed with O’Neill on the subject of his column _ opposition to the superintendents’ salary cap _ but he was raising a good issue.

For years, Republicans have condemned Trenton and its mandates. But that Trenton had a Democratic governor. Now. we have a Republican governor and  state government is intruding into the lives of municipal officials more than ever.
The state is telling school districts how much they can pay their superintendents.
The state is cutting aide to towns and districts, forcing them to make cuts and layoff workers.
The state’s ethics reform package aims to stop, say, a town councilman, from holding another paying public job.

In response to O’Neill’s column, Alex DeCroce responded and said the difference is that what Gov. Christie is doing is for the common good.  That could very well be the case. I just think it is interesting that Republcans in New Jersey are now the party of big government as Trenton is impacting local affairs in a big way.

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About fsnowflack
Fred Snowflack was editorial page editor and a political columnist for the Daily Record of Morristown for almost 12 years. He has won numerous awards for editorial and column writing from the New Jersey Press Association and has written a blog on county and state politics for the last three years. He lives in Ledgewood in Morris County.

7 Responses to We now have "big government" in NJ

  1. Richard Babcock says:

    Having a strong leader is different than “big government.” The intension of a true big government progressives is to take more decision making control from the hands of the individual and markets and centralize those functions in governing entities, which results in big spending funded by high taxes. In this case, in order to fix what has broken our state, namely over spending, over taxing, and over regulating, strong leadership is needed to put an end to these practices and restore fiscal sanity to our state and relieve the taxpayers and businesses of the enormous burdens that have been on their backs for far too long courtesy of true big government believers.

  2. Richard:
    I agree with you that what Christie is doing is necessary, but do not pretend it is not “big government” when the state tells, for instance, the Morris School District how much it can pay its superintendent.

  3. Bob Grant says:

    Fred, there is a basic misunderstanding of the constitutional basis for the authority of municipal and county officials in New Jersey. Our 1947 State Constitution says that county and municipal governments derive their power from the state. In other words, “home rule” is and for the last 63 years has been a myth. “Big government” is what New Jersey is all about no matter which party controls the statehouse.

  4. P says:

    Local BOEs have even less authority than municipal governments. The state dictates just about everything that they can and can’t do, even as they provide fewer and fewer $$ to run the public school system, especially in the suburbs.

  5. P says:

    And the real issue here isn’t local control, or how much superintendents make, it’s where all our Income Tax dollars are going.

    Fred – If you want to really do a service for your readership, get the NJ Treasurer’s office to provide the amount of Income Tax $$ that the state collects from each Morris county community, and then compare that to the $$ given back in State Aid (Schools and Municipal) and publish those figures. The ratios are eye popping.

    People whine about NJ’s 60% return on every $1 submitted to the Federal government, but most towns in Morris county are getting back about 1 – 10% of every Income Tax $$ submitted!!

    If Christie wants to fix OUR property tax problem he’ll do two things – 1.) Get to the bottom of why it costs twice as much to run an Abbott School district as some of the priciest I & J districts; 2.) Recoup that money and use the Billion or so of wasted $$ to provide real relief based on a new aid formula that provides a minimum amount of $$ per student, and require that the money be used for direct Property Tax relief.

    Chasing after a potential $8M save state-wide (against over $20 Billion spent on public education) is just a sideshow. The real money is in the 30 districts formerly know as Abbott.

  6. morristown republican says:

    I suppose where we differ is defining “big government.” You are using the term in relation to its being heavy handed. That may be true in this case, but the true difference lies in intent. When we conservatives speak of big government, we are speaking of taking away from the individual, what this governor is attempting is taking away power from those that seek to maintain the status quo that landed us in this mess, namely big spending, big government, self-serving progressives.

  7. Ed France says:

    Mr O”Neill is in charge of one of the best performing public schools in New Jeresey. Good for him. But in many school districts there are politics and overspending.
    Most of the taxpayers I talk to are fed up with paying more school taxes. We are just not convinced that caps should not be put in place during these thin economic times. Forget the politics, many of us just dont have the extra money.
    DO MORE WITH LESS!! Please!!!! They will only do more with less when they are forced to. If these people want to make more money let them become bankers or work on Wall Street. Leave the taxpayers alone.

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