10/11/2012 02:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Christie's Agenda Is Bad for New Jersey. NJPP Has a Solution

Is it possible to reverse Chris Christie's agenda of borrowing money to pay for tax cuts for the rich, while doing nothing to lower the state's high unemployment rate? A New Jersey policy group thinks it can be done.


Soon after Jon Shure, the former journalist and Communications Director for New Jersey Governor Jim Florio founded New Jersey Policy Perspective in 1997, I joined its board of trustees. Shure wanted to fill a void in New Jersey's public policy debate, which ranged from right wing conservative ideas all the way over to middle-of-the road Democrat Party ones. Jon wanted to inject fact-based analysis that might move our policy debates in a progressive direction.

Since then NJPP has succeeded promoting ideas that advanced not only economic justice, but also public policies beneficial to all New Jerseyans.

He soon realized that credible research and sound analysis was not enough. NJPP also needed a force to help amplify those ideas and get them signed into law. So NJPP reached out to grassroots partners representing environmentalist, seniors, and the working poor across the state, such as New Jersey Citizen Action, NJ Housing And Community Development Network, CWA, and Blue Wave and works with them to mobilize for change.

By uniting sound policy with grassroots civic action NJPP has fought former Governors and special interest groups and helped make New Jersey a fairer and better place to live.

* NJPP has successfully fought to create a fairer tax system by promoting a policy that makes a few rich New Jerseyans, with incomes of more that $500,000 a year, pay a slightly higher rate than the rest of us. Even our conservative governor, who is more concerned with helping the rich then creating new jobs, has left it in place.

* Because of NJPP's work with labor and civic groups, we are one of only two states where mothers and fathers can take time off from work and not risk losing a paycheck so they can nurture newborn or care for ill family members.

* Using NJPP's research, grassroots groups were able to successfully lobby for the Earned Income Tax Credit that helps 300,000 working families. These low-wage-workers, who pay regressive payroll taxes, now receive tax credit to helps them avoid living in poverty.

*Because of NJPP's research the public is pushing back against tax breaks for large, profitable corporations that don't create jobs and lay off workers.

Instead of tax cut gimmicks, Gordon Macinnes, NJ's former assistant commissioner of Education, and NJPP's new executive director is urging our government to invest in New Jersey's future.

While Christie's NJ wallows at the bottom of the nation's recovery from the Great Recession, NJPP will be urging him to drop his phony "Comeback" rhetoric and replace it with "investment" and "opportunity."

NJPP has consistently exposed foolish economic theories that maintain cutting taxes for the rich and reducing investments in healthcare, education, and transportation will magically create jobs. To quote Jon Shure "It's like saying your car will go faster if you take out the engine,"

With the recession devastating state revenues, we are in danger of devastating New Jersey. We face 11% unemployment, disastrous inner city schools, unaffordable college tuition and health care, crumbling roads and dangerous bridges. Conservative pundits claim too much spending caused this mess. The argument against government investing in education and infrastructure made by conservative and moderate politicians is not based on sound public policy, but on the self-interest and right wing ideology of their big donors.

This Sunday, October 14, I'll be joining New Jerseyans from across the state who believe in good jobs and economic justice. We will be celebrating NJPP's 15 years of advancing progressive policy. The event will mark a milestone, but its more important purpose is to build a foundation for a new vision. Instead of tax cuts for the rich, NJPP wants us to invest in New Jersey's future so we can regain our competitive edge to attract well-paying jobs and providing concrete opportunities to struggling families.

If you are interested in attending click here: October 14 at the Heldrich in New Brunswick.

John Atlas is president of the Montclair, New Jersey based National Housing Institute/Shelterforce Mag. His new book is Seeds of Change, The Story of ACORN, America's Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group, Vanderbilt University Press.