Current New Jersey Governor, potential suspect in a criminal investigation, and possible future United States Attorney General Chris Christie has repeatedly promised to get his state’s fiscal house in order. He’s slashed transportation budgets, welfare programs, and education funds while simultaneously cutting taxes. But New Jersey keeps sinking further underwater. On Monday, the state’s credit rating was downgraded for the tenth time since he took office. NJ.com reports:
New Jersey on Monday was hit with its 10th credit downgrade under Gov. Chris Christie, reflecting growing government worker pension obligations that are among the highest in the U.S.
Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services lowered the state’s rating from “A” to “A-“. The move comes after the rating agency Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services revised its outlook for New Jersey from stable to negative over concerns with the declining pension funding levels and rising retirement liabilities.
“We base the downgrade on our expectation that state budget pressures will intensify in future years,” analyst David Hitchcock said in a statement. “Recent events have added incremental out-year budget pressure, in our opinion, to what is already a sizable structural budget imbalance driven primarily by pension underfunding.”
Christie’s failure to fix New Jersey’s pension problems demonstrates that blue model woes aren’t just the fault or responsibility of Democrats. Republicans are much less wedded to the interest groups and outdated policies which created these budget crises, but many of their efforts to solve the problems haven’t helped. In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback pursued a strategy similar to Governor Christie’s to perhaps even more disastrous results.
Cutting budgets for transportation and services combined with big tax cuts doesn’t solve these complicated problems. Republicans criticize (often rightly) Democrats’ total faith in social science. But, especially now that their party controls so many governments, Republicans would do well to become more well-versed in the nitty-gritty of public policy. “Starving the beast” isn’t doing the trick. Better solutions are needed.