If you’re not from the northeast, you may not be aware that New Jersey is in a serious financial bind. The state is facing a $2.2 billion deficit in the current fiscal year that ends in June, and forecasts for next year’s budget predict a staggering $11 billion deficit. So it should come as no surprise that discussions of money might get a little heated these days.
It turns out that a law was passed five years ago that imposed a new tax on cable subscriptions, intended to subsidize cable fees for low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities. The tax raised more than $9 million, but it was never distributed. Now Governer Christie has simply taken the funds to help pay down this year’s deficit. The governer is quoted as saying “To have the taxpayers of New Jersey pay for cable TV, I mean seriously, has cable TV become a constitutional right now we are going to pay for, in this time of budget constraints?”
A good argument could be made about how access to video programming can affect the quality of life, especially for those targetted by the initial bill. But I can also see how reasonable people might question funding it with public money, especially when those same elderly and disabled citizens may need help with more fundamental utilities such as heat, water, and electricity.