Response by Stephen Salmore
"Jim McGreevey was elected governor partly by criticizing Christie Whitman for creating a large budget deficit, for not controlling spending, and for paying for tax cuts by borrowing money. Yet his budget also avoids meaningful spending cuts, it borrows money, and it adds to the mix a number of tax increases, not cuts. The most important of the increases involves taxing corporations and businesses, but even Democrats in the state are only luke warm about this proposal. Under these circumstances passing the budget will be a real test of both the governor's popularity and credibility.
"McGreevey's budget and the public's reaction to it underscore the truism that taxes are the third rail of state and local politics. Whatever economic conditions, political conditions, or other issues that might be discussed, the bedrock issue is always taxes and every governor must deal with it. This governor is no exception. The debate over his budget will revolve primarily around taxes and not any of the other proposals the budget includes."
Comment by Fairleigh Dickinson University Research Professor of Political Science, Stephen Salmore (Ph.D., Princeton University). Steve specializes in both national and New Jersey politics and presently operates Raritan Associates, Inc. He is a co-founder of the Eagleton Poll and co-author of Parties, Elections and Campaigns and New Jersey Government and Politics.
Dr. Stephen Salmore can be reached at 973-292-3633