They are like two weather fronts approaching which may create a perfect storm in New Jersey: The courts have lifted the restrictions on foreclosures and more than 14% of all homes in several central counties of New Jersey have underwater mortgages (more is owned on them than they are worth.) That is a whopping 79,000 houses and the counties mentioned are Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean. Although I do not have the data at this moment, it is safe to reckon that the rest of the counties have at least a fraction of the numbers quoted above. New Jersey could have as many as 150,000 homes in danger of being foreclosed this year.
The magnitude of the crisis is accentuated by the high property taxes in New Jersey. The combination of underwater mortgages and high taxes make people default, even those who can afford their payments. For some it is a business decision. How bitter may that be! Property taxes can be like a second mortgage.
Abolishing property taxes as I propose would eliminate that latter factor.
Perhaps the facts that I am campaigning on a program of rationalising the government structure in New Jersey and that November 2013 is not too far are awakening politicians to “consolidate” and “sharing services” in an effort to salvage their monopoly on power.
Bergen County Executive Donovan is not the first one of course. Christie did it. So has Sweeney. Ironically, no politician calls for “consolidating” his/her own position. It is always somebody else who is sacrificed. However, the most important fact that we must keep in mind is that all these calls are not genuine or rather are not bound to produce any results of sufficient magnitude to benefit the people of New Jersey. It is all theatrics, propaganda, and throwing a few crumbs to appease the popular anger and to blunt my message of reform.
They are scared because reform can happen. Other states, where the political machinery is not as entrenched as it is in New Jersey and where some politicians put the public good above partisan privilege are showing the way as you all can see below; the case of Maryland.
Maryland is taking the tax money that goes to counties and distributing it directly to schools. Maryland may not have the same system of home rule that New Jersey has. We may have to do this through a constitutional amendment, But we certainly can do it here and save our own future and that of our children. The two selfish political bureaucracies have absolutely no right to ruin the lives and well-being of 8 million New Jersians.
Expect a formidable resistance to reform here too.