Bad news out of NJ Spotlight today regarding the State Budget Crisis Task Force, which last week unveiled its report documenting just how far down a certain creek New Jersey has drifted, with nary a paddle in sight.
You can read the full analysis here, but here’s a few takeaways:
– Among the six states studied, only Illinois has a greater unfunded pension liability, per capita, than New Jersey.
– More than half our highways are in poor or mediocre condition. California was the only once close, at 41 percent, and when you’re close to California, it better be geography. When it’s politics, you’re in trouble.
– We had the biggest nosedive in revenue from 2008’s peak to 2011, 15 percent. Only Virgina also was in double digits.
There’s plenty more, or, if you’re just out for tales of the macabre, you can check out the complete works of Stephen King. Needless to say, the collective that wrote the report concluded with the idea that New Jersey “is a nice place to visit,” though they’d never want to live there, or pay eight bucks for a beach badge after sitting in Parkway traffic for three hours.
There’s two ways to read a report like this. The first is to look at the governor’s “New Jersey comeback” as having all the momentum of molasses flowing uphill in February, but it’s probably much more fair to consider how much Chris Christie’s policies have done to stem the bleeding, so long as he doesn’t order himself a “mission accomplished” banner. After all, while unemployment remains stubbornly high, like a college freshman who just discovered the guitar, Christie has cut public employment and taken steps toward shoring up a pension fund that right now offers all the stability of the New York Mets. But the state has bigger structural challenges that need to be addressed before we start touting a comeback.
Let’s hope the governor keeps that in mind. In between appearances stumping for Mitt Romney, of course.
I’m even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.