Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Foreclosures and Student Debt

An idea I had when running for NJ State Assembly was to help graduates carrying college debt and help them purchase a foreclosed home. It would help or eliminate the student loan, generate tax revenue, reduce the glut of foreclosures, and help stabilize the prices of existing homes.

There is a problem with foreclosures in New Jersey, and a problem with students who are struggling to pay them off and purchase a home. Perhaps there is a way to resolve both situations and turn it into a positive for New Jersey. I would look at this as a win-win for the graduates and the housing foreclosure market.

As an example, if a foreclosed home that was worth $450000 is now valued at $200,000 and a college graduate has a debt of $100,000, perhaps combining the two into a $300,000 mortgage. Most banks would look at the student debt as an obligation against qualifying for a mortgage loan.

However, the student could only qualify for a foreclosed home, not a new home or typical mortgage. This would possibly help eliminate empty homes in foreclosure, help stabilize home prices and give a graduate the opportunity to own a home. By using this method, they would be able to pay down both loans at the same time.

By the time many students pay off their loan and qualify for a home, their kids would be going to college.

If the student defaults on the mortgage, it would not eliminate their student debt. Perhaps it could be set up where a percentage of the mortgage goes toward the principle of the student’s debt. Another possible option would be able to pay off the $100,000 student loan and carry a $300,000 mortgage.

If the college graduate can show some kind of collateral or promise of a job in a certain field...such as a doctor, a lawyer, engineer, etc . . . . a certain income level, it would be much better to have a family in the house than for it to stay empty in the foreclosure process.

They would not be entitled to any discounts or incentives, and would still have to meet the same requirements that any other home buyer would qualify under. There would be no student loan debt forgiveness.

I have heard that some banks are thinking of selling their foreclosures to investors who would rent them out. That would hurt neighborhoods substantially, as the investors really do not care about the neighborhoods and are only looking to receive a monthly income. Perhaps an idea like this would help prevent that from happening.

Countless foreclosed homes are being stripped of their copper pipes etc. while they sit empty, or taken over by those that do not belong there. Numerous homes are bought in NJ by investors, who live out of the state and then rented out, and as long as the rent is paid they investors don’t really care who lives in them. Perhaps this could be a win-win for everyone. Many banks do not want to keep the growing list of foreclosures and are thinking of selling them off to investors who have no interest in the neighborhood other than monetary gain.This may not be a perfect plan, but I haven’t seen any other solutions or ideas. This could be a starting point to help resolve the foreclosure and student debt issue. Moreover, perhaps an even bigger plus it would keep graduates from leaving the state and losing another valuable asset.

A tax ratable for the state!

This is what I call innovative thinking and perhaps putting New Jersey back on the map.
I realize one is a Federal loan and the other is a state loan, but there must be a way this can be worked out to benefit all.

Instead of taxing people to no end, let’s start thinking outside the box on bringing revenue into the state coffers.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


State Democrats have advanced on a $35.3 billion state budget with two tax increases that would more than double the money for government workers' pensions next year . . . by raising income taxes on millionaires and corporation business taxes.
Since 1996, governors from both parties have been underfunding the system and using it to balance the budget.
In 2006, the sales tax increased from 6% to 7% and was to generate $1.2 billion in revenue. Under the Corporation Business Tax, a 4 percent surcharge had been placed on what businesses owe to help generate an additional $100 million for New Jersey.
New Jersey’s property taxes in 2010 had increased by more than 70 percent from the previous 10 years.
Between 2003 and 2010 there were 115 tax increases and that still didn’t generate enough revenue.
In 1997, the energy surcharge fee was created, was to have been phased out but was kept to generate $53.5 million for the state in 2006, and to this day, it is still in effect.
Did you know that as a New Jersey resident a portion of your utility bill pays for state facility utilities and energy costs at New Jersey Transit?
The New Jersey Office of Legislative Service projected that for typical residential customers, for each household that surcharge runs about $73 a year on their electricity bill and about $89 annually on their gas bill. New Jersey’s proposed budget for 2017 includes a reallocation of $112 million from the Clean Energy Fund to pay for several of New Jersey government’s utility bills . . . A portion of your utility bill goes towards balancing the state budget!
More often than not, NJ government mismanages our money and then pushes the consequences of their actions back onto the taxpayers. I didn’t bankrupt the pension fund, I didn’t bankrupt the state’s transportation fund . . . but all we hear is how we must tighten our belts and dig deeper to fix their errors.
Now, New Jersey Democrats want raise the gas tax to fund the Transportation Trust Fund, once again placing the burden on its citizens. Already we are being lied to. The gas tax was supposed to have been 'only' 23 cents and that is not the case. The public was not told of all the hidden add-ins built into the bill.
The states drivers will be paying close to 40 cents per gallon or more, it is not a fixed tax and will increase as gas prices escalate. Not one of our representatives have said it would be a dedicated fund to be used only for infrastructure costs.
Another tax that will escalate . . . if one refinery goes dark, that tax will rise faster than the morning sun.
We, as the people of this state already paid for the TTF . . . misused and mismanaged we are being asked to fund it a second time with no guarantees that it will not be used to balance another shortfall somewhere else.
Unless we hold our elected leaders responsible for their actions . . . leaders supposedly elected to look out for our interests, we will continue to roast ourselves over a self-perpetuating fire pit.
The more money government collects . . . it will find a way to spend it, creating more of the same mess it claims it is trying to fix. Any money they do collect goes towards paying off the bonds from the prior year. The shell game is in play; we are being hoodwinked and bamboozled at what cost?
I for one am tired of having my pockets siphoned to fill the states endless money grab at my expense while paying for their self-interests at the same time.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Taking Care of Our Own First

We can’t take care of our own and we wonder why we pay higher taxes, go deeper in debt, continue to fund what we can’t afford, and have no money left to fund our own humanitarian problems.
The US government has an Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) account is funded at a ceiling of $100 million, set up to fund the initial 30-90 days of refugee resettlement in the United States.
The U.S. takes more than twice as many refugees as all countries from the rest of the industrialized world combined.
10,000 additional Syrian refugees would cost U.S. taxpayers $130 million per year. Over the next 50 years the costs for these additional refugees would add up to $6.5 billion for American taxpayers.
This $6.5 billion expense to provide these refugees with community services, health, education, welfare and retirement benefits would be in addition to to the almost $13.5 billion in foreign aid that U.S. taxpayers have already sent to the Middle Eastern nations to help with the Syrian civil war conflict.
Of the major refugee resettlement organizations in the US; many are run by former refugees.
Staff and management of the hundreds of taxpayer supported U.S. contractors are largely refugees or immigrants whose purpose is to gain entry for more refugees.
Refugee agencies refuse to use their own resources to maintain the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Public money has thoroughly driven out private money.
Welfare use is staggering among refugees and is never counted by officials as part of the cost of the program. Yet, when it is included, the total cost of the refugee program soars to at least 10-20 billion a year.
Refugees are not tested for many diseases, such as HIV. Refugees are a major contributing factor to TB rates among the foreign-born. TB among the foreign-born now accounts for about half of the TB in America.
The money the U.S. spends bringing one refugee to the U.S. could have helped 500 individuals overseas in countries where they currently reside.
In the U.S. 47% of loans made to refugees for transportation to the U.S. are unpaid leaving an unpaid balance of $450 million, and does not include interest or an unknown amount that has been written off.
Refugee resettlement is profitable to the organizations involved in it. They receive money from the federal government for each refugee they bring over. They have almost no real responsibilities for these refugees. After 4 months the “sponsoring” organization is not even required to know where the refugee lives.
A refugee legally resides in the country of resettlement and is eligible for federally funded cash assistance for up to 8 months.
Refugees arriving in the United States will receive $900 when they first arrive.
Refugees who are able to quickly enter the job market can elect to participate in the Match program, a federal program for refugees geared towards employment and self-sufficiency. The Match program provides families with money for rent and basic living expenses for three months. Adults are provided $325 each/month for the three month program, and children are provided $200 each/month for the three months.
The refugee program has a significant impact on U.S. foreign policy. It also affects internal and foreign policies of other nations by allowing them to rid themselves of unwanted minorities or close their borders to asylum seekers in the knowledge that the U.S. will take them in.
More than 500,000 people . . . a quarter of them children, were homeless in the United States this year. Approximately 15.3 million children are starving in US households.
As of 2012, 1,151,890 people live in food-insecure households in New Jersey alone
.In 2014, 77 percent of food-insecure households in New Jersey reported having to choose between paying for food, paying for utilities or heating fuel.
The state of New Jersey had the biggest increase in the number of residents participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—up 19 percent since June 2010.
The homeless during 2013, according to the Corporation for Supportive Housing. estimated a total of 25,612 people to be homeless in New Jersey.
New Jersey’s homeless population increased 16 percent in 2014.
Let’s take care of them first before we worry about taking care of someone else.http://savejersey.com/2015/11/syria-refugee-new-jersey/

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The History of New Jersey’s Transportation (Mis)trust Fund

Did you know that New Jersey has $900 million a year going to pay off interest and principal on bonds issued years ago? The issuance of new bonds, not tax revenue, is funding the Trust Fund’s contribution to the Transportation Capital Plan.
Every year, the Transportation Trust Fund spends almost three times as much as it raises in taxes. Every time that the Trust Fund borrows $1.6 billion, it commits to paying $100 million a year for 30 years in debt payments (assuming a 5% interest rate).

Since 2005, the Trust Fund’s annual debt payments have escalated by over 56%, from $623 million to $845 million.
Did you know that starting around the middle of 2011, the entire $895 million that taxpayers contributed to the Trust Fund every year to pay for transportation projects will instead go to pay off the debt on previously issued bonds?
The Transportation Trust Fund was created by the Legislature in 1984. Its primary financing mechanism was designed to be a pay-as-you-go system. It was also supposed to prohibit the use of Trust Fund money for routine operations and maintenance.
Over the last 25 years, the focus of the Trust Fund as a funding mechanism for the DOT shifted from primarily pay-as-you-go financing to a heavy reliance at first with short-term 10-year bonds, graduating to 20-year long-term bonds, and then escalating to 30-year.
Trust Fund monies originally intended to support capital improvements have been used, instead, to fund maintenance costs once considered part of the operating budget paid for out of the state’s general fund.
In fact, the Trust Fund’s overall annual spending in Capital Program contributions and debt service payments have grown more than twice as quickly as the tax and fee revenues dedicated to the Trust Fund. The bonds issued to cover the gaps commit the Trust Fund to higher annual debt payments, further increasing the Trust Fund’s expenses.

Existing tax revenue to the Trust Fund is enough to cover only debt service payments; any new capital program costs must be met with new sources of revenue.
But if new taxes are only going to fund the refinancing and payments towards borrowed interest of the Trust Fund’s existing debt, I find that totally unacceptable.
Our legislature caused its own problems through mismanagement, the diversion of funds for unintended use and, ironically, by not following their own guidelines. Maybe the revenue generated from Red Light camera fiasco should go towards funding the Trust Fund dilemma?
Increasing the New Jersey gas tax will add about .45 per gallon of fuel. Why should New Jersey drivers compensate for the incompetence of our legislature? There is no guarantee that after leaving 1,000 miles of bad road behind us, we will only find ourselves right back on the same wrong-way highway in the not too distant future.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Contradiction-in-Chief

President Obama is now back tracking saying you can keep your health plan. Well that’s nice, but just how do you do that after you received your cancellation notice?

Echoing his friend Frank “Monkey Court” Pallone‘s talking points, Obama also says most people won’t want to, anyway, and that anyone who’s had an individual policy canceled to look at what’s available at HealthCare.gov before they look to reinstate their old policy.

This guy is a walking book of contradictions!

Roughly 85% of Americans have insurance. Out of a population of approximately 317 million, about 11 million people have policies on the individual market.

Out of that 11 million, at least 4.2 million Americans have been sent cancellation notices by their insurers. People who were kicked off of a plan they liked and could afford are now facing higher premiums and deductibles.

Insurance companies and commissioners across the country now face the daunting task of deciding how they are going to handle already-cancelled health-care policies under the President’s new administrative ‘fix’ for the Affordable Care Act.

By reinstating cancelled policies, these insurance companies will need to issue coverage that doesn’t meet Affordable Care Act standards.

And it’s not so easy for an insurance company to reinstate a policy; insurance companies need to plan premiums and budget for expenses far in advance of issuing a policy.

Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the new law could destabilize the market and result in even higher premiums for consumers. Our central plannes overlook the fact that premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption that consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace.

Each state has  regulations of its own with which a plan needs to comply before it can be offered, including New Jersey. Many of those canceled plans no longer meet state regulations; even ones that do comply would need to be approved by the responsible state agency and with less than two months to go in the calendar year, it won’t happen.

It’s almost the New Year and a quick fix for this mess won’t be that swift. The insurance companies better have all hands on deck to prepare for this administration’s 2014 mid-term, because if this so-called temporary fix doesn’t work, God knows what our walking, talking, Contradiction-in-Chief will try next to save his congressional allies’ skins.

The Unemployed States of America

President Barack Obama has achieved the dubious distinction of being a sitting president with the highest unemployment rate ever,

We take him at his word that he loves the poor (we know this because he has created so many of them).

Humor aside, the only things booming in this country under Obamanomics are poverty and health insurance premium rates.

The history behind this sad pass is pretty clear…

Save Jersey has tracked the building unemployment and underemployment disaster for years now. We’ve never seen anything like it in U.S. History.

President Ronald Reagan suffered a severe recession starting in 1981, but all the job losses of that recession were recovered after 28 months. Reagan’s recovery was fueled by traditional pro-growth policies.

Under Obama, by April, 2013, a full 64 months after the prior jobs peak or almost 5½ years later, we still had not recovered all of the recession’s job losses.

By contrast, during the Reagan recovery, 64 months after the recession started, the raw number of jobs grew to a level 9.5% higher than where it stood before the recession started representing an increase of about 10 million more jobs.

In April, 2013, jobs in the Obama recovery were still about 2% below where they were when the recession started, about 2 ½ million less, or a shortfall of about 10 million jobs.

Even former president Jimmy Carter produced 4 times as much economic growth during his one term as Obama did during his entire first term . . . yikes! It’s pretty bad when a peanut farmer from Georgia is “happier than a pig on an acorn” having been surpassed for the title of worst president in our lifetime. But that’s where we’re at today, folks.

Legislative “Shared Sacrifice”

Each member of Congress “earns” 3.4 times more than the average American worker.

Congress also receives the equivalent of $14,000 in paid time off… assuming they only take half of the time off as the average federal employee. Taxpayers contribute about $6,000 to each Member of Congress’s health and life insurance and another $9,000 to the employer’s share of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

How much work did they do for it? Congress was in session just 126 days this year. They worked just two days in the month of August.

Congressional members average $3,346 per week, and their compensation including benefits totals around $285,000 per year. Unlike state and local government employees, who generally must contribute around 6 percent of their pay to defined benefit pensions, Members of Congress contribute only 1.3 percent of their salaries.

Members of Congress receive contributions toward retirement benefits equal to around 47 percent of their annual salaries, or about $82,000.

The number of laws passed by Congress last year was fewer than at any point since 1947.

Again, the current 2013 Congressional calendar consists of only 126 days. This left members of Congress with 239 “vacation days” to… perhaps… tour our great nation? Or mull over the idea of running for even higher office, or maybe visit a natural disaster or two to get some camera time. We know they weren’t visiting national parks because they closed them down.

Politicians like to say we should increase the retirement age to 70, as people are living longer.
If they actually worked, they might realize 66 is sufficient for most of the work force, as our legislative body works on average 2.3 days per week.

The “average” federal employee salary is $78,500. The median household income for most in the United States today is $50,875.

Federal workers receive health insurance, retirement health benefits, a pension plan with inflation protection, and a retirement savings plan with a government match. They typically receive generous holiday and vacation schedules, flexible work hours, training options, incentive awards, generous disability benefits, and union protections.

Taxpayers could save $39 million a year if members of Congress decreased their salary to $100,000 per year (still nearly twice as large as the average American worker’s salary of $50,875).

Our legislative leaders say they feel our pain; so exactly what is this “shared sacrifice” the people keep hearing about?