Burlington County's Senator Dawn Marie Addiego made sure that the TTF agreement included more than a handshake for veterans. She resisted the demands to screw veterans, by NJ101.5's Bill Spadea and the Koch Petroleum lobby group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP).
Instead, Addiego fought for veterans. She made sure that the compromise contained a $23 million income tax cut for veterans who were honorably discharged from active duty military service or from the National Guard/ Reserve.
Some of the bigger hand-jobs out there suggest that a conservative Republican should never vote for a tax cut because, so the argument goes, some future legislature (Democrat or liberal Republican) could undo those tax cuts. This argument is sheer assbanditry. One might as well argue against life itself because eventually, we all die anyway.
Let them try to take this away from veterans. A tax cut passed is better than one just talked about. We fight the battles as they come. We always have. Some of us always will. One step at a time. Let others give up.
We also heard from Senator Gerald Cardinale today. His detachment from conservatives continues. It began with his votes on behalf of illegal immigrants, to extend taxpayer-funded benefits to those in the United States illegally. The Senator defended his vote to continue to attract illegal labor to compete with American workers by telling the Star-Ledger (11/24/13): "I’ve always sort of had this penchant for bringing people into the mainstream of the economy, and I think this fits that category. Let more folks get into the mainstream of the economy and they’ll be doing better."
Senator Cardinale has been a legislator in New Jersey since 1974. He predates the creation of the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). The gas tax has not been increased since 1988. There have been no adjustments for inflation. The last time the gas tax took in enough money to fund New Jersey's transportation needs was in 1990. After that, the Legislature put it all on the taxpayers' credit card and piled on the debt year after year. For eight of those years -- 1994 through 2001 -- the Republicans held WIDE MAJORITIES in BOTH chambers of the Legislature AND the GOVERNOR. Did they notice the TTF debt? Did they do anything about it? Nope. Jack Dick!
During that long stretch, the federal benchmark for inflation, the COLA (cost of living adjustment) went up many times: 4.0% in 1988, 4.7% in 1989, 5.4% in 1990, 3.7% in 1991, 3% in 1992, 2.6% in 1993, 2.8% in 1994, 2.6% in 1995, 2.9% in 1996, 2.1% in 1997, 1.3% in 1998, 2.5% in 1999, 3.5% in 2000, 2.6% in 2001, 1.4% in 2002, 2.1% in 2003, 2.7% in 2004, 4.1% in 2005, 3.3% in 2006, 2.3% in 2007, 5.8% in 2008, zero in 2009, zero in 2010, 3.6% in 2011, 1.7% in 2012, 1.5% in 2013, 1.7% in 2014, and zero in 2015. But the price we paid to maintain our roads and bridges remained the same. Didn't legislators like Cardinale ever wonder how?
Does Senator Cardinale even care? We have remarked before on the practice, by so many legislators, of leaving New Jersey with their pension and moving to low tax states after they retire. Lots of New Jersey legislators own homes outside New Jersey. Senator Cardinale owns a luxurious resort on the Caribbean Island of St. Martins. A pool, private beach, horseback riding, water sports, and nearby French gourmet restaurants and Parisian style shopping. That's not our description of the place, it's the Senator's.
Part of the TTF compromise is the elimination of taxes on retirement income for those residents of New Jersey. Senator Cardinale could vote to give retirees in New Jersey an average $1,200 tax cut.
He said he won't. But there is still time.