This again? A Rutgers-Camden study unveiled last month came to the not-so-startling conclusion that South Jersey does indeed get less state aid and support than North Jersey gets. It’s an old complaint — and a somewhat annoying one. Patrick Murray, head of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in 2008: “South Jersey is the…
The latest study — which was co-authored by Shauna L. Shames, an assistant professor of political science at the Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs, and doctoral candidate Spencer Clayton — concluded that counties in North Jersey and Central Jersey receive on average at least double what South Jersey counties receive in state aid and the state’s assumption of certain costs.
The study’s authors said the differences cannot be explained merely by population differences and that the disparity was “counterintuitive.” Considering the higher poverty rate and related public health and welfare challenges in South Jersey, you’d think “the state would need to give more to those less well-off Southern counties,” they said. Not to dispute or minimize South Jersey’s needs, but even if there were absolute, per-capita parity in state aid with more heavily populated North Jersey, would that be fair or sensible?
Life in a scenic part of the state is markedly different from life in an industrialized metropolitan area.
Look, to take just one example, there is less mass transit available in South Jersey because the state can’t afford to run train or bus lines that have six passengers. And there’s something else about South Jersey. It’s nice. It’s pretty. South Jersey has beaches and marshes, forests and farms.
Up here in North Jersey, there are refineries and the Lincoln Tunnel. It should be no surprise to anyone that life in a scenic, relatively sparsely populated, tourism-dependent part of the state is markedly different from life in an industrialized metropolitan area. For good and bad.
So quit complaining, South Jersey. Or maybe, at least, we should all — North and South — stop quibbling over who is getting the biggest portion of life’s bounty. It’s not an easy number to crunch. Certainly, efforts should be made to meet South Jersey’s needs. And while it’s true the region has sometimes lacked political might in Trenton, that’s not true right now. Not with the juice that South Jersey power broker George Norcross and Senate President Steve Sweeney have in Trenton today.
But South Jersey needs even more representatives who can wield power statewide and who know how to horse-trade to get benefits for their region. Electing such representatives would prove far more valuable for South Jersey than continuing to wallow in its Rodney Dangerfield mind-set about the unfairness of it all.