Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor #1 says: "It's the first budget in six years with no new taxes or tax increases...First and foremost, this is a property tax relief budget."
Governor #2 says: "So let me say at the outset that I have the courage in this budget to call for specific actions, to propose landmark programs and reforms -- and yes, to call for tax increases."
Obviously, governor #2 is the Republican, Connecticut's Jodi Rell, while governor #1 is a Democrat, New Jersey's Jon Corzine -- it wouldn't be noteworthy if the positions were reversed.
In fact it isn't all that noteworthy either for a Republican governor to call for tax increases or a Democrat to support tax cuts. That happens all the time. What's interesting in this case, however, is that New Jersey is in far worse fiscal shape than Connecticut, making it a much more logical candidate for new revenue.
Rell points out that her state is projected to have fiscal problems down the road, but concedes that she's calling for higher taxes in spite of a $500 million surplus this year. Corzine acknowledges that New Jersey still has "a structural deficit after four and a half years of national economic expansion," but isn't calling for more revenue to deal with it, at least for now.
Eventually, Corzine seems inclined to seek more revenue by leasing out state assets including toll roads or the lottery, a privatization approach that will put him in line in with conservatives like Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
By raising the income tax, one of Rell's primary aims is something that's also been a paramount goal for progressives in state politics for years: equalizing school funding between rich and poor districts. Rell was already indistinguishable from Democrats on social issues including gay rights and abortion. Her veer to the left on fiscal issues means a Republican may be the nation's most liberal governor.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.