May 26, 2022


On the Hook

By: Grant Van Eck

Tracking the unique situation with New Jersey’s 2022 budget, I am reminded of a scene from one of my favorite childhood movies…Hook (1991). My brothers and I probably watched it a dozen times, acting out the battle scenes on the pirate ship on our living room couch—much to our mother’s disappointment. 

Right now, our representatives are staring down an imaginary table of your money; a cornucopia of the hard-earned dollars. 

Time and energy put forth through your labors on a silver tray. None of it is real, but sadly, their banquet is happening right now. A false narrative those in control always seek to push to convince you they are in fact helping.

This $46.4 billion is fully manifested by their desire to maintain the status quo of policies and programs that fail us time and again. Feasting to quench their insatiable appetites with this dreamt up budget, New Jersey’s elite class has a feeding frenzy while we watch our dollars spent on their special interests. 

I am reminded of that dinner scene in Hook where the lost boy’s flurry of hands dig into various empty pots and pans in a hilarious scene.

While a grown-up Peter Pan (Robin Williams) is perplexed since there is no food on any of the platters. This is true for our state budget, New Jersey politicians are lost boys and girls in their own right. 

Just like Peter Pan is instructed in this scene, our puzzled citizens are told to ‘imagine’ by those with their hands in the empty bowl, bewildered at the excitement in the voices of those who seek to frivolously spend other people’s money. 

Our state is financially broken and has been for decades with no plan to dig out, instead the entrenched political class continue this fantasy of the overflowing cup and can’t stop scooping out more to enrich those who feed off unchecked government spending. 

The business community both small and large need relief and residents need jobs. Lowering the corporate tax rate in New Jersey to 7% (and 5.5% for those under $100,00) would unleash the economy. It would create much needed high paying jobs for our highly educated regional population. Retaining a young talented workforce and stopping the population loss the state has faced. It would be great to see the vacant corporate campuses all over the state filled again while preserving the others already planning their escape. 

Small businesses are historically the greatest job creators and would give the state the needed growth if given the chance. Eliminating payroll taxes for any firm employing under 500 employees would do just that.  

New Jersey residents are some of the most overtaxed individuals and families in America. The tax levy out of Trenton is a crippling burden that those who live here witness firsthand. This largess of their taxation resulted in an astonishing $4.6 billion in revenue that was collected but did not need, this is unprecedented. 

The Give It Back Now plan would  return $3 billion of that in refundable credits (it was your money in the first place) of $1000. This is a good start but much more needs to be done to fix this state. 

In this rare time, I remain hopeful that things will go in the right direction for citizens who have paid the price of failure and mounting debt for too long. Future generations deserve better than being left in the never never land of the elites far-fetched narrative that has been given to Millennials and GenZ by those currently in power.