Printus LeBlanc
Guest Columnist
Judging by a few recent announcements, it appears elected officials don’t care about American citizens. The California Attorney General just announced any employer obeying federal immigration laws would face state charges. Many in Congress are trying to shut the federal government down if amnesty is not given to illegal immigrants. Have they ever threatened to shut down the government over education, homelessness, military pay, or veterans care? I don’t think so.
Newly elected New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was sworn in on Tuesday, January 16, and he made his priorities known immediately. Unfortunately, his priorities have nothing to do with New Jersey citizens, but more to do with illegal immigrants. The governor of the cash-strapped state announced he is going to create a new agency for defensive protection of illegal immigrants. Should this really be the priority for the new governor?
New Jersey has an embarrassing school system, but the new governor doesn’t seem to care. Recently released New Jersey Department of Education statistics reveal how embarrassing. Only 42 percent of high school students meet or exceed standards for basic Algebra, 9th grade. The numbers get worse the higher you go in school. Only 30 percent for geometry and barely 1 out of 5 high school students in New Jersey meet and exceed standards for Algebra II.
It is equally embarrassing for elementary and junior high school. The only grade from 3rd to 8th that scores above 50 percent in math is the 3rd grade at 53 percent. It is not much better when it comes to English proficiency. Barely one-third, 38 percent, of high schoolers getting ready to graduate from high school meet or exceed standards for English. These are kids getting ready to graduate high school and enter the world, and they can barely read and write English. Yet the new governor is prioritizing illegal immigrants over the citizens of his state.
Does the state have the funds to spend on this new agency? According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, New Jersey is dead last in state fiscal health. The 2017 state fiscal health report paints a bleak picture for the state. The key findings were:
Cash solvency measures whether a state has enough cash to cover its short-term bills, which include accounts payable, vouchers, warrants, and short-term debt. (New Jersey ranks 37th.)
Budget solvency measures whether a state can cover its fiscal year spending using current revenues. Did it run a shortfall during the year? (New Jersey ranks 49th.)
Long-run solvency measures whether a state has a hedge against large long-term liabilities. Are enough assets available to cushion the state from potential shocks or long-term fiscal risks? (New Jersey ranks 50th.)
Service-level solvency measures how high taxes, revenues, and spending are when compared to state personal income. Do states have enough “fiscal slack”? If spending commitments demand more revenues, are states in a good position to increase taxes without harming the economy? Is spending high or low relative to the tax base? (New Jersey ranks 24th.)
Trust fund solvency measures how much debt a state has. How large are unfunded pension liabilities and OPEB liabilities compared to the state personal income? (New Jersey ranks 39th.)
Shouldn’t the education system or financial health of your state be the priority?
California, the state New Jersey wants to emulate, is also a dumpster fire. The state recently announced itself as a sanctuary state, refusing to cooperate with federal authorities on ICE detainers. Is this the best use of the time and resources of the state? Like New Jersey, California has more problems it should be dealing with instead giving taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants.
California is attempting to compete with New Jersey in the horrendous education department. According to statistics released in September, not even half of California students are proficient in English with only 1 out of 3 being proficient in math. What makes this worse, these numbers broke an upward trend, meaning the scores were worse two years ago. Shouldn’t education be a priority instead of illegal immigrants?
California is also the epicenter of the poverty crisis. When people think about California, they usually think of movie stars and money, but a closer look tells a different story. Recently released data shows California has the highest poverty rate in the country, 20.4 percent, beating out states like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama states usually associated with poverty.
Homelessness is an epidemic in California. California accounts for 12 percent of U.S. population, the largest in the nation, but it also holds 25 percent of the homeless in the country according to a report from HUD. It is so bad in California if you combined the total homeless population of the Texas and Florida and doubled it, you still would not approach California numbers, even though the combined total population totals of Texas and Florida would surpass California by 8 million. Doesn’t this seem like a better use of resources than protecting illegal immigrants?
It is truly disturbing to see states struggling such as New Jersey and California while their elected leaders dumb billions into programs for illegal immigrants. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Other states around the country are in similar financial trouble but have decided illegal immigrants are more important than citizens. It is time to ask who do your local, state, and federal elected officials care about more?
Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.