Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A tax by any other name is still a tax

Facing a $5 billion budget shortfall, New Jersey's lame duck legislature was busy yesterday taxing (yes, the $3 up-charge to the vehicle registration "fee" is a tax since it goes into the general fund to be used for general purposes) and spending $70 million it doesn't have. They also played some pension games (which is nothing out of the ordinary for the Trenton Democrats) and rewarded some insiders with a phat job or two (and higher pensions) even though a panel has recommended curbing the fast growth of pension costs.

Despite not having executed a single person since the death penalty was passed over 20 years ago (and having no prospect of an execution withing the next year), the Legislature decided to put a yearlong moratorium on executions so that it could study whether executions in New Jersey are fair. How do you study something that hasn't happened?

At least something worthwhile came out of yesterday's session -- no more smoking in bars and restaurants. Casinos are still fair game.

The new legislature is sworn in today. God only knows what kind of trouble they can get into on their first day.

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