Once again, Governor Christie has trashed the poor and middle class – this time by cutting almost three quarters of state aid to local libraries. It boggles the mind to try to understand how New Jersey can compete in the 21st century without an educated populace. Yet, the governor steadfastly refuses to progressively tax those same rich individuals whose businesses will need a savvy work force to remain competitive. Our library users suffer while the rich get richer.
These regressive and harmful fiscal shenanigans are compounded by the fact that as the state reduces its support for libraries (which has been flat for decades), we also lose out on recapturing OUR federal tax dollars in matching funds. So when you file your tax return on April 15, keep in mind that the money you are sending to Washington will end up in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Mississippi, or some other state that has a more sane and rational approach to providing educational resources to all of its citizens.
Today’s libraries are more than just book lending institutions. Many have after-school programs for kids to continue their learning (where will they go now, now that social services and libraries will be forced to close while their parents are working multiple jobs?). Libraries often are the only source of internet access for the poor. Given that most job searches and applications are now done via the net, another unnecessary barrier will be placed in front of the poor thanks to the governor.
It’s amazing that the state can support stadiums with skyboxes for the wealthy and provide a $600,000 severance package to Fred Hill, Jr., but can’t come up with even a flat budget for one of our most important resources. Chris Christie promised us tough management of the state’s resources. But “tough” does not mean “draconian”. His lazy and sloppy meat-axe approach to solving New Jersey’s budget problems is wrong for the people of the state, and we will be cleaning up this mess long after the governor leaves Trenton.