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We can’t grow the economic pie if government eats it 


Christopher P. DePhillips is an assemblyman whose 40th Legislative District includes parts of Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic counties

(first published on APP.COM)

If the state were a business, it would be bankrupt. The difference is that taxpayers are more certain than customers to provide a stream of revenue.

It just so happens that the number-one taxpayer target for Democrats is businesses — the job creators that help the economy grow and help people afford putting food on the table for their families and themselves. When the cost of living is too high because of taxes, which drive up prices of the products we buy and limit the money we have to buy them, Democrats tell businesses that they have to raise wages.

When wages rise, so do prices to pay for the wage increase. It is a vicious cycle that puts the government first and the working class second. Democrats often talk about government revenue, and how much is needed to fund programs to help people because they cannot afford anything in this state anymore. They point to various metrics, such as the ALICE study by United Way that states the cost of basic expenses alone in New Jersey is over $11,000 more than the national average household income.

The more government spends to support some residents in the state, the more all residents have to pay to support other people while they struggle to afford living here themselves. New Jersey has $209 billion in debt that can only be covered if each taxpayer chips in $65,000. The debt includes $99 billion in pensions and $92 billion in health benefits for current and former public employees.

Taxpayers don’t have that kind of money, so neither does the government. If a recession hits, the tab will be deemed unpayable and two things will occur — more tax hikes and devastating spending cuts for people who are government dependent.

Somehow, the Murphy administration and the Democrat-led legislature have not learned the lesson from former-Gov. Corzine that taxing and spending makes things worse for everybody.

Since Gov. Murphy took office, he has signed 34 tax increases costing residents over $3 billion. Democrats in the legislature have passed 51 tax increases, 17 more than signed. Together, they are on the way to increasing spending by over $6 billion, an 18 percent increase over three years. Nobody I know could even consider increasing their household budget or their business’ budget by 18 percent. It is an absurd proposition.

For elected officials who like to spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money, it is not an absurd proposition because they can always tax more. This year is the same as the last two years. Taxes could rise by nearly another $1 billion if the governor’s budget is approved. As history has proven, and current events predict, Democrats in the legislature will likely exceed that by taxing businesses even more.

The state’s corporate business tax is on a runaway course like a bull in a china shop. New Jersey has been ranked the nation’s worst business climate for five years going on six. Despite established businesses already not wanting to invest in New Jersey’s great location and educated workforce, business taxes were increased by almost 30 percent in Gov. Murphy’s first budget — a push by legislative Democrats — and are being pushed higher again; this time indefinitely.

There is a paradox in the mindset of the men and women who prefer tax hikes to tax cuts, and that is their tendency to cheerlead tax credits. For the overtaxed working poor, we increase the EITC to lower their tax burden. For the overtaxed businesses, we provide gargantuan tax credits to lower their tax burden. Yet, the only solution they have when it comes to government is raising the tax burden, then, once again, clamor for tax credits to cut it.

Meanwhile, no matter how much Democrats raise taxes, the state’s debt remains a hulking fiscal catastrophe. In times when there is enough revenue to pay the state’s bills in full, the party that runs the state does not even try to address this crisis. If bills are a problem, pay them. If taxes are a problem, lower them. The simple solution tends to be the right solution.

Instead, the Murphy administration and the Democrat-led legislature are not being responsible at all. The state and taxpayers will be worse off in the next recession than they were during the last recession that ended in 2009. While we have a strong economy and growing revenue, now is the time to pay our bills and cut our taxes.

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