Thus begins David Halbfinger’s Week in Review essay on New Jersey in today’s New York Times.
New Jersey’s tough-talking new governor, Christopher J. Christie, the first Republican elected in 12 years, is grappling with a deficit in the billions by squeezing nearly everyone — school children, the elderly, mass transit, cities, suburbs, subsidized renters and home owners.
But what’s most surprising about New Jersey is how in such a blue, labor-dominated state, Democrats and union members seem to be cracking under the pressure of the state’s tax burden, revealing a kind of split-personality disorder.
The syndrome surfaced last summer during Mr. Christie’s campaign, when he vowed to bring New Jersey’s property taxes, the nation’s highest, under control. As a candidate he saved his sternest threats for the teachers’ and state workers’ unions, whose healthy pay and benefits packages, he argued, were slowly strangling the schools and running the state’s finances into the ground. Union members, state workers and teachers, it turned out, weren’t offended by his rhetoric. In fact, public opinion surveys showed they ate it up.
Whole thing here.