New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gets it. He understands that the people are tired of unresponsive government and they want to have more say in what goes on.
He is proposing that a constitutional amendment be placed on the ballot to cap property taxes in the state. While it would be great if they people of New Jersey themselves could put measures on the ballot for a vote, this is a step in the right direction. Here’s a video of him discussing the ballot measure at a townhall.
That question will be decided by New Jersey’s highest court - which heard oral arguments in the case Tuesday - and many think the issue will eventually go to the United States Supreme Court.
Of the 45 states whose legislatures hold sessions in 2010, 27 of them have adjourned for the year, and 5 more will wrap up before the end of the month. Of the more than 80 bills dealing with the initiative and referendum process in various states, 51 of them would have reduced citizens’ initiative rights. Thanks to the work of activists in our coalitions, only 3 bills reducing citizen’s rights have passed and become law.
Last week Trevor Ford talked about New Jersey voters taking charge of their state using local initiative and referendum processes. What happened in New Jersey underscores how much power can be given to citizens when they have an accessible local process to initiate legislation and bring government matters to a vote.
The following states recognize some form of local initiative and referendum rights for more than half their citizens:
New Jersey citizens went to the polls yesterday in local elections across the state. The big items on the ballot were school budget referenda, and from the looks of things New Jersey voters made very clear their views on spending in the state:
New Jersey voters took a stand on school spending and property taxes Tuesday, rejecting 260 of 479 school budgets across 19 counties, according to unofficial results in statewide school elections.
New Jersey voters took a stand on school spending and property taxes Tuesday, rejecting 260 of 479 school budgets across 19 counties, according to unofficial results in statewide school elections. In the proposed state budget he unveiled last month, Gov. Chris Christie slashed $820 million in aid to school districts and urged voters to defeat budgets if teachers in their schools did not agree to one-year wage freezes. The salvo ignited a heated debate with the state’s largest teachers union. Christie said the cuts were necessary to help plug an $11 billion state budget gap.
New Jersey politics is always interesting. Today a state appeals court ordered the Jersey Secretary of State to finally give petitions to citizens seeking to recall U.S. Senator Robert Menendez under a provision in the state constitution.
Township voters seemingly rejected the $2.9 million Foley Field bond issue during a special referendum held March 9. Tuesday’s five-hour referendum unofficially tallied 1,194 votes against the initiative and 1,084 in favor as of Tuesday night. The final tally could still be impacted the inclusion of provisional ballots; those numbers were not expected until Wednesday (after this newspaper’s press time), according to school officials. Approximately eight percent of Bloomfield’s 27,964 registered voters visited the polls, according to unofficial results.
In the “Initiative & Referendum Almanac”, the principle reference text for those of us in the world of initiative and referendum, the section on New Jersey history starts out noting that “It is ironic that New Jersey, the state where the national initiative and referendum movement originated, never adopted provisions for I&R.” It’s not only ironic, but sad, because like citizens in the other 25 states that don’t recognize initiative and referendum rights, New Jersey citizens could ce
Gov. Chris Christie says initiative and referendum is something that could benefit New Jersey. During today’s “Ask the Governor” radio call-in show on New Jersey 101.5 FM, Christie said he thought the state could be a better place if it had I&R. Initiative and referendum allows citizens to use petitions to put issues on the ballot to be decided directly by voters.