Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Trenton's a swamp that needs to be drained

Ballot questions in N.J. are often overlooked when people vote. Most of the time nobody pounds the pavement about them or advertises a point of view on tv (except in California where many things go on the ballot). However, their impact ends up being felt years later when people wonder "How the hell did we get into this mess?" This year, New Jersey had two ballot questions and they were ingeniously unclear. Here's Question 1:

Do you approve the proposed amendment to the State Constitution which
provides that, after this amendment becomes part of the Constitution, a law
enacted thereafter that authorizes State debt created through the sale of bonds
by any autonomous public corporate entity, established either as an
instrumentality of the State or otherwise exercising public and essential
governmental functions, such as an independent State authority, which debt or
liability has a pledge of an annual appropriation as the ways and means to pay
the interest of such debt or liability as it falls due and pay and discharge the
principal of such debt, will be subject to voter approval, unless the payment of the
debt is made subject to appropriations of an independent non-State source of
revenue paid by third persons for the use of the object or work bonded for, or are
from a source of State revenue otherwise required to be appropriated pursuant to
another provision of the Constitution?

Yep, that's what we were able to vote on. Believe it or not, it can impact our states finances, which are a mess from all the debt on its books ($3 billion a year in debt service). The newspapers also didn't have much to say about it either. Therefore, I had to go to the League of Women Voters to get a true interpretation. See page 3 for the implications. Where are the reporters in New Jersey to write about this stuff? Isn't it their role to interpret complex material and improve voter understanding?

Unfortunately, our politicians are not being held accountable either. This is an act of intellectual dishonesty. If our politicians cannot be up front with the public, what good are they. It just leads me to say, Trenton is a swamp that needs to be drained.

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