The GDP of New Jersey is about $650 billion. The total amount of taxes – including property and sales, user fees, and tolls – that New Jersey residents pay to the government are roughly 10% of that: $65 billion annually. A middle class and a great city are not created by decree. It is highly unlikely that the middle class can grow in Newark and bring gentrification to the city when the same middle class is under pressure everywhere else in New Jersey. The income tax cut proposed by governor Christie – if implemented – would be just another blow to it.
Building a “Teachers Village” in downtown Newark obviously does not hurt the city but it does not address the root causes of the difficulties Newark faces nor will remedy the chronic shortage of qualified teachers in the Newark Public School System. When it comes to teaching staff, Newark is a revolving door. The education reform and weakening of tenure proposed by the Christie administration will also worsen this situation. The village is a band-aid on a hemorrhaging wound.
This administration has launched a frontal assault against teachers during the last two years. Without either a reasonable degree of job security or much higher pay, teachers may not commit themselves, with their families, to Newark. To add to the issues of job insecurity and pay, I understand that the crime statistics in Newark are not the best by any means. That is a consideration that any teacher will take into account when looking at the perspective of teaching in or moving to Newark.
The administration is also dedicating public funds to the construction of 3 charter schools in the complex. Diverting public funds to build private schools is wrong but if being done through the NJ Schools Development Authority, NJSDA, one of the many authorities that allegedly serves as a nest of political patronage and I believe should be abolished, it eliminates the legislative oversight.
But in any case, the New Jersey Legislature has opted to cooperate with the administration in many of these questionable plans.
We can not solve the serious problems affecting our urban centers without addressing the structural problems in the entire state. The main issues are: property taxes and the redundant layers of government which must be reduced although reforms must go well beyond those two points to turn the state around.
Note: Although I have written numerous articles that apply to Newark and other cities, this is the first which belongs exclusively to Newark. Accordingly, I have created a distinct category: Newark.