In the name of “no taxes,” Republicans have slashed state budgets across the country, forcing schools to sell advertising space, firefighters to lose their jobs to prison labor, and cities to decriminalize domestic violence in order to save money.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie (R) instituted severe cuts to education funding, public employee benefits, and public sector jobs, while calling his action the “day of reckoning.” Christie cut $3 billion in his first two years, leaving low-income New Jerseyans with half the number of legal aid lawyers, the mentally ill without a home after a hospital had to shut down, and thousands of women without health clinics to visit. Those cuts have also left 4,000 New Jersey police officers without a job and left drug-related crime to flourish:
In Newark, police no longer respond to motor vehicle accidents without injuries. In Paterson, the police department’s Narcotics Squad was cut by half.
In Newark, 162 officers were laid off; in Camden, 167; Trenton, 105. [...]
Statewide, about 4,000 police officers have lost their jobs in the past two years, said Anthony Wieners, president of the state’s Policemen’s Benevolent Association. There were about 25,900 municipal police officers in New Jersey in 2009, according to State Police statistics.
“All the advancements we made since the late 1970s, in community policing, getting out into the communities and building a trust, are going to be lost,” Wieners said.
In Little Egg, the police department had to disband its drug unit after 11 of the town’s 49 cops were laid off last year. In the six months that followed the layoffs, “burglaries in the township jumped 61 percent, assaults rose 22 percent, and larceny increased 54 percent.”
Christie’s “day of reckoning” has fallen hard on low-income New Jerseyans and public servants. But, thanks to Christie, the reckoning never reached the state’s millionaires. Last year, the state legislature passed a tax on millionaires that would help alleviate Christie’s budget cuts. Christie vetoed it — twice. In under two minutes flat. His argument: A tax increase is a “failed, irresponsible” policy that will “set our economy further back from recovery.” But it’s hard to see how his current policies are doing anything different.