Steven Malanga in the New York Sun:

Jersey’s floundering Republicans face a similar problem to that of their equally unsuccessful New York brethren: powerful public-sector groups that live off government money and push incessantly for ever higher taxes have seized control of the state’s politics, and feckless GOP leaders have accommodated them, leaving the state party without core principles and alienating its voting base. Jersey’s overburdened taxpayers–they pay the second-highest state and local taxes in the country (behind only New York’s)–have nowhere to turn for a real alternative to Democratic big spenders….

The latest outrage: a legislative proposal, sprung on voters immediately after the election, to hike gasoline taxes by up to 12.5 cents a gallon,even as the local economy struggles to get out of a recession. In a state that’s sixth in the nation in cars per capita,the new levy, initially backed by Democrats and some Republicans, drew opposition from more than 70% of Jersey residents. Taxhikers backed off.

Empower the People is doing more than opposing new taxes, however. It is seeking passage of state constitutional amendments limiting state government spending and rewarding municipalities that live within budget limits by distributing surplus state funds to them for property-tax relief. These “return the money” amendments, as Mr. Schundler dubs them, would prevent the state from spending recklessly when tax receipts are rolling in, as it has traditionally done.

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