Confident that he will be the Republican nominee for Governor, Steve Lonegan answered questions in this interview in a way that came across to me as a back to basics strategy. A strategy that would scale back the scope of government and their intrusiveness in our lives. A strategy that intends to strip off the extras which cost us more.
In the previous installment of this interview, we got a good glimpse of that approach to government when the Mayor answered questions involving the Committee On Affordable Housing. Aside from calling the actions of the committee “leftwing social engineering“ he called for its abolishment.
Such signs of Lonegans desire to put government back in its proper place are most evident in the area of taxes.
He says “we have the worst income tax, we have the highest top end rate in the east at 9%, we have the highest sales tax in the nation and the highest property taxes“.
The former mayor claims that these exorbitant taxes are all “a result of the massive growth of state government”. He adds that “we also have the worst estate tax in the country so not only can you not afford to live here, you can’t afford to die here” and he made it clear that under a Lonegan administration, the solution that he will provide to the problem will be achieved by cutting taxes across the board which you do by cutting the size of government. He added that he will do so by “cutting it with an axe, not a scalpel”.
- …..“The number one driving force behind increases in property taxes in New Jersey is the state government“…..-Steve Lonegan, 1/21/09-POLITICS 24/7 interview
As for property taxes Lonegan believes the key to solving the problem is lifting government off of our backs and giving mayors and local council members “back the tools they need to govern effectively rather than become functionaries of the state whose job it becomes to implement all the COAH mandates and all the other unfunded mandates that Trenton heaps on the backs of local officials.”
Stating that after 12 years as Mayor of Bogotá he knows the burdens of which he speaks, and proclaimed that he knows what it takes to cut taxes and that due to the overreaching that Trenton participates in, local “officials do not have the tools” to cut taxes .”
He added “we need to eliminate COAH which will be driving up our property taxes. We need to give mayors and councils the ability to negotiate union contracts on a fair playing field and we need to give school boards the ability to negotiate teachers contracts and give them a fair playing field which they do not have now.”
- …..”The real losers here are the students”….. -Steve Lonegan, 1/21/09-POLITICS 24/7 interview
Another factor, one of the most important factors, in rising property taxes is the 15 year old Abbot School funding formula which Lonegan clearly states is plain wrong.
Calling the Abbot funding system “another product of our liberal state supreme court”, Lonegan explains that we have the 33 most expensive school districts in America. “These are the Abbot districts where spending per student ranges as much as $25,000 and in some cases $30,000 per student and the real travesty here is that after billions and billions of dollars pored into these school districts, we still have students coming out of these school districts with a less than mediocre education, often in unsafe schools”, he added.
- ….“I think the idea of collecting money from people and sending it back is absurd”….. – Steve Lonegan, 1/21/09-POLITICS 24/7 interview
Still on the topic of property taxes, I asked the Mayor what he thought of the homestaed rebate program which eligible homeowners recieve after paying their taxes. His response was expected and right on the mark.
“I think the idea of collecting money money from people and sending it back is absurd. I think the whole sytem should be eliminated” said Lonegan. He further stated that as governor, as he reduces the size of government, “one of the programs that will go will be the homestaed rebate program”.
- …..”cut taxes for everyone”….. –Steve Lonegan, 1/21/09-POLITICS 24/7 interview
But before anyone takes tthe line about doing away with the homestaead rebate and tries to paint Lonegan as someone who refuses to make it easier for taxpayers in New Jersey, he made clear that his goal is to “cut taxes for everyone and give them real tax cuts, not some phomy income redistribution scheme that requires people to call into some stupid phone number and wait for an hour”. Steve believes that if we can “start cutting the state’s income and sales tax for the people, they will say, we don’t want your rebate anymore”
As for the education of our children Lonegan declared that the highlight of his career will be the day that he signs a bill requiring every Abbot school districts to “give a quality education to students with the same funding as every other school district in the state of New Jersey”.
If they don’t, Lonegan demands that they give each parent of those students a voucher so that they can go to the school of their choice.
With much of our discussion dealing with funding and mandates I asked Mayor Lonegan if as Governor, he would refuse any federal funding for the state because of strings that may be attached to it.
When it comes to our return on the tax dollar that New Jerseyans send to Washington, D.C., most of it has to do with the ability of our representatives in D.C. and how good they are at delivering for the state. Our representatives in the U.S. Senate, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez have been a sleep and during their naps, New Jersey has fallen to last place when it comes to the money we get back from Washington. Although New Jersey could use all the help it can get right now, I asked Steve if there was any limit to what help he would reject t from Washington because of some of the federal strings attached to it.
His matter of fact response was “I certainly would, it depends on the strings of course so it has to be analyzed case by case.”
The mayor did feel that it is a “sad state of affairs when the federal government uses money to manipulate us into implementing their agenda on the state level.”
But that answer cuts both ways.
For instance, I am a supporter of legislation sponsored by Texas Senator John Cornyn, which prohibits the use of federal money involving projects that a state or local entity obtains through eminent domain policies. I also support federal legislation to link the refusal of Homeland Security dollars to states that allow themselves to be sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants.
However the Mayor’s comment has merit. There are many cases where the federal government does refuse to turn over money to a state if they fall short of adopting some of D.C’s intended social engineering programs, programs like COAH for example, and besides, he did state that he looks forward to the day when we don’t need any help from Washington.
All in all Steve Lonegan presented a great case for not only conservatives but for taxpayers as well.
He also demonstrated that someone with the experience of a New Jersey township or municipal mayor, might just be what New Jersey needs in a Governor. Who knows best what the ramifications of Trenton’s decisions are in the towns, villages, cities and municipalities, throughout our state, than a mayor who has had to deal with what comes out of Trenton?
His points are hard to argue and the only real area for debate, regarding his points, deal with the approach to the solutions of each of those points and that’s what the Republican primary for the gubernatorial nomination will be all about.
In the next part of this interview we will get into that debate as we ask the Mayor about his opponents and his chances of winning.
A friend of mine is in the naval reserves…………….
A few weeks ago, He was attending a conference that included admirals in both the US and the French navies. At a cocktail reception, my friend found himself in a small group that included an admiral from each of the two navies.
The French admiral started complaining that whereas Europeans learned many languages, Americans only learned English. He then asked. “Why is it that we have to speak English in these conferences rather than you have to speak French?”
Without even hesitating, the American admiral replied. “Maybe it is because we arranged it so that you did not have to learn to speak German.”
The group became silent.
Submitted by Mike, Broomfield, Co.
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