To all my freedom-loving customers in New Jersey, the fight for your Second Amendment rights is taking shape. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial staff explains:
Massive resistance used to be a phrase associated with Southern opposition to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling on racial integration. These days it describes how progressive institutions resist the Supreme Court’s rulings on guns, race and regulation.
In June the High Court ruled that the ability to carry a firearm outside the home is fundamental to the Second Amendment. New Jersey politicians responded by declaring a host of public places from state parks to theaters off-limits to guns—and last week federal Judge Renée Marie Bumb called foul on the state by blocking enforcement of specific provisions that have been challenged in lawsuits. The temporary stay will last until a hearing and ruling on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.
The challenge was brought by gun-rights groups and three New Jersey gun owners who had concealed-carry permits before the law was passed. The bulk of their case revolved around the law’s designation of “sensitive places” where carrying a gun is prohibited.
The plaintiffs challenged the gun bans in public libraries and museums, as well as bars and restaurants that serve alcohol and entertainment facilities. They also questioned provisions of the law barring guns from being carried on private property without first getting the permission of the property owner, as well as one prohibiting guns in cars unless they are unloaded, locked and in the trunk. As the judge noted, “state restrictions that are so extensive and burdensome” effectively nullify the ability of gun owners to exercise their constitutional right.
Which is the intent of the New Jersey law. Judge Bumb noted that while the state has had six months since New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen to identify historical analogues the Court said could justify banning guns in a given space, it has failed to provide them. All of which means confusion for the law-abiding gun owner. “The court,” the judge wrote, “knows of no constitutional right that requires this much guesswork by individuals wanting to exercise such right.”
Justice Clarence Thomas has noted that, since the Supreme Court’s 2008 landmark Heller decision upholding an individual right to bear arms, many lower courts have also resisted its commands. It’s encouraging to see Judge Bumb make sure New Jersey politicians don’t do the same to Bruen.
But attempting to limit his constituents’ freedoms is nothing new for New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. He’s also attempting to undercut charter schools in his state despite their benefits to children. As you can see clearly by Murphy’s actions, it’s about buying votes with your freedom. The Wall Street Journal’s editors explain again:
Do students matter to politicians, or do they only care about the adults in unions who finance their campaigns? That’s the question for New Jersey Democrats, especially Gov. Phil Murphy, who has to be willfully blind to ignore the evidence that charter schools in his state are improving education performance for his state’s neediest children.
Data compiled by the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association are stunning—especially for minority students in the state’s six biggest charter cities. In state tests for 2022, black and Latino students in charters were roughly twice as likely to be proficient as district-school students in English language arts and math. Not a few points, but twice.
In Newark, 25.9% of charter students of all races across all grades reached proficiency on math tests compared to 13.3% of district students. In Jersey City, 54.1% of charter students were proficient in English language arts compared to 41% of district students. In Camden, 25.1% of charter students were proficient in English compared to 9.8% of district students.
Overall, charter students are 43% more likely to be at grade level in English and 47% more likely to be at grade level in math than district students, the charter school association calculates.
With this kind of disparity, you’d think anyone in public office would be calling for more charter applications to teach more students. But this is New Jersey, where Democrats are led by the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.
There are 85 charter schools in the state that teach 60,000 students. That compares with about 1.3 million district K-12 students in the state. Since Gov. Murphy took office in 2018, charter schools have applied for more than 12,500 seats; only 5,500 have been approved, according to the charter association. In 2022 only 455 out of 1,980 seats were approved for the state’s highest-performing charters.
This is despite parents demonstrating their support for charter options. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reports that New Jersey charters gained more than 3,000 students during the pandemic years, while district schools lost nearly 40,000. Some 28,000 students are on charter wait lists. About 13 charters have applied for some 2,700 more seats this year, the New Jersey Children’s Foundation estimates.
The Murphy Administration is expected to make decisions on the next charter applications by February. The Governor, who is in his second term, should be granting every decent application in sight and making it easier to attract more. But at least he can grant the current applications. Why even run for office if you’re going to take orders from teachers union chief Becky Pringle?
While blue state politicians like Phil Murphy are busy trying to take your rights and freedoms away, they’re ignoring the giant holes in their budgets. Richard Ravitch and William Glasgall explain in The Wall Street Journal:
Years of excess borrowing and slipshod accounting caught up with New York City in the 1970s. It would take tough choices, hard sacrifices, and a federal bailout to put the city on a sound fiscal path. To help the city emerge from its crisis, the state Legislature in May 1975 passed the Financial Emergency Act for the City of New York. The law subjects the city to increased oversight, requiring it to plan for financial shortfalls and adopt a balanced budget in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, which require accounting for promised payments when liabilities are incurred and discourage one-time maneuvers to achieve balance.
Four months later, President Gerald Ford approved a $2.3 billion revolving loan to help the city to pay its debts and begin its recovery. Since then—through economic booms, recessions and disasters, including 9/11 and superstorm Sandy—New York has never seen a replay of its brush with bankruptcy, and its budgeting remains as close to a model of fiscal responsibility as there is.
Despite this, no other major American state or local government has followed New York’s budgetary lead. While most state and local governments are flush with cash following an unprecedented $5 trillion in federal Covid-19 relief spending, they are nonetheless facing an inevitable fiscal cliff, created by the one-two punch of a possible recession this year and the expiration of hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic aid by 2026.
These forces will expose states, counties and cities to the risk of financial catastrophe as they are forced to grapple with approximately $2 trillion in unfunded liabilities for public-employee retirement obligations and deferred infrastructure maintenance on top of $4 trillion in municipal bond debt. Much of these costs remain hidden in so-called balanced budgets through the use of maneuvers such as using one-time revenues to pay recurring costs and not fully funding pension obligations. These costs pose a severe risk to the entire U.S. economy as well as states and localities, which employ almost 20 million Americans. The bankruptcies of Detroit, Puerto Rico and several California cities following the Great Recession all involved excessive borrowing to achieve balance. It could happen again.
The need for Congress and the executive branch to avert this impending crisis is why we have launched the Richard Ravitch Public Finance Initiative at the Volcker Alliance. In normal years, Congress showers state and local governments with about $1 trillion in cash and tax benefits—equivalent to 4% of U.S. gross domestic product—yet the feds have demanded surprisingly little in continuing high-level oversight of state and local budgets.
This shortage of oversight makes it difficult for federal authorities to help avert fiscal crises that could cost the U.S. economy and taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. To address this, Congress should take action. State and local governments should be offered incentives to adopt generally accepted accounting principles for budgeting.
At the same time, federal lawmakers and regulators should take a more active role in overseeing the largely deregulated municipal-bond market, demanding more transparency so investors and citizens can see if state and local governments are borrowing wisely. The recently passed Financial Data Transparency Act, which requires the Securities and Exchange Commission to develop machine-readable data standards for information that municipal bond issuers provide to the public, is an important step. But more is needed. Until Congress comes to terms with the risks states and municipalities are running in their budgets and borrowing, the nation will remain unprepared for rough financial times ahead.
Action Line: Politicians are elected to maximize your freedom and minimize the cost to you. Instead, those like Phil Murphy and others are attempting to reduce your freedoms and use your money to fund their pet projects. If you live in a state where politicians are treating you like a piggy bank, it’s time to look for a better America. Start your search with my 2022 Super States. And click here to sign up to be one of the first to receive my list of 2023 Super States.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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