George Will has a great column today about how New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is making difficult budget-cutting decisions that are drawing a lot of heat from government employee unions:
He inherited a $2.2 billion deficit, and next year’s projected deficit of $10.7 billion is, relative to the state’s $29.3 billion budget, the nation’s worst. Democrats, with the verbal tic — “Tax the rich!” — that passes for progressive thinking, demanded that he reinstate the “millionaire’s tax,” which hit “millionaires” earning $400,000 until it expired Dec. 31. Instead, Christie noted that between 2004 and 2008 there was a net outflow of $70 billion in wealthas “the rich,” including small businesses, fled. And he said previous administrations had “raised taxes 115 times in the last eight years alone.”
So he closed the $2.2 billion gap by accepting 375 of 378 suggested spending freezes and cuts. In two weeks. By executive actions. In eight weeks he cut $13 billion — $232 million a day, $9 million an hour.
One of Christie’s actions was to take $65 million from the state’s global warming fund — its entire allocation — to balance the budget, which upset other special interests:
New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said the DEP budget is designed to dismantle many key environmental programs and cost the state so-called green jobs….
RGGI, a compact with multiple states in the Northeast, was established to create programs that reduce the greenhouse gas footprint. Programs help pay for clean energy programs that reduce carbon and create jobs.
Tittel charged that by cutting the fund, the governor is hurting the environment and keeping green jobs out of the state.
“When it comes to clean energy and reducing greenhouse gases, this budget shows the governor is full of hot air,” Tittel said. “He keeps taking money away from green jobs and clean energy programs, undermining the environment and costing us jobs as well.”
While the global warming realists ought to be encouraged by Christie’s bold action, he still bears watching on the issue. This may be a matter of making some tough priority decisions rather than anti-alarmism. According to his campaign Web site, on energy and environment he commits to principles such as “global warming justice,” “saying no to coal,” and even more subsidizing of inefficient renewable energy projects, especially solar.
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