Pat Murphy has an opportunity to become a hero in New Jersey. Will he do it?
New Jersey is one of the best and worst states in which to live in the US.
- Healthcare and life expectancy
- Quality of public schools
- Social services
- Job market
- Culture and the arts
- Diversity — if you’ve seen bigotry anywhere else in the US, this is where you go to heal
- Recreation — sports teams, the beaches, etc.
- Leadership in solar energy — state programs that have moved most townships to solar and made conversion virtually costless to homeowners
- Highest taxes of any state in the US, especially property taxes
- Disparity in spending on education between school districts — and schools are 80% of the high property taxes.
One school district in Bergen County, NJ, pays teachers an average of $100,000 per year. My kids went through a district that supported students speaking 38 languages, with an indoor Olympic swimming pool, TV station, radio stations, and funding for a large array of extracurricular activities. That district had an arrangement with Princeton University for gifted students to take undergrad classes there in math and computer science. And it was nowhere near being the best public school district in the State.
The home run for Murphy? He’s already said he wants to legalize marijuana in NJ. With the larger population and access to the New York and Philadelphia markets, the tax revenue haul should dwarf anything seen to date — and just talk to the folks in Colorado about the impact on their state.
Couple marijuana legalization with property tax reform and you have the equivalent to a grand slam in baseball. Simple, elegant, decisive. You can cut property taxes, remediate inequality and everyone will be happier. Except maybe Trump.