-- Government - Overview
* Governor * Legislature * Congress * Courts * Counties
* Municipalities * Taxes * Politics/elections
* Political history * Lobbyists
* State Symbols
* Real Estate
* Historic Villages
* Historic homes
* Art Museums
* History Museums
* National Parks
* State Parks
* Amusement Parks
* Swimming holes
* Gallery of images and videos
* Fast Facts on key topics
* Timeline of dates and events
* Anthology of quotes, comments and jokes
* Links to other resources
New Jersey is comprised of the state government with an executive branch headed by the governor; a legislature of a 40-member Senate and 80-member General Assembly; and a judiciary with the highest court the Supreme Court of seven justices headed by the chief justice. There are 21 counties and 565 municipalities; unlike some states, New Jersey has no unincorporated areas and municipalities cover its entire geographic area. Most school districts are formed to serve individual municipalities, but there are also regional, consolidated and countywide districts, as well as non-operating school districts which do not operate any school facilities but administer sending-receiving relationships under which students attend school in other districts under contractual agreements.
-- State Constitution
New Jersey's current state constitution was adopted in 1947 and is the third constitution following those adopted in 1776 and 1844. The primary reasons for adopting the 1947 constitution were to strengthen the role of the governor; consolidate state executive agencies;
and restructure the courts under the central administration of the state Supreme Court and its chief justice.
The constitution may be amended by approval of a majority of voters at a general election after both houses of the legislature have voted to place the proposed amendment on the ballot. A proposed amendment for submission to the voters can be passed either by simple majority in two separate legislative sessions, or by a 60% supermajority vote taken in one session. The governor's approval is not required for submission of the question for voter consideration. Unlike several states, New Jersey does not allow proposed constitutional amendments to be submitted for referendum through petition by voters without prior approval by the legislature.
* New Jersey State Constitution of 1947, NJ State Legislature
* Proceedings of the 1947 Constitutional Convention, NJ State Library
* The New Jersey State Constitution by Robert F. Williams (2012)
* New Jersey State Constitutions 1776, 1844 and 1947, NJ State Archives
-- Government employees
According to the US Census Bureau's most recent American Community Survey conducted in 2016, New Jersey had a total of 430,129 full-time state, county and local government employees with a total payroll of $2.6 billion, with over half of the total government employees in education. In 2017, the state had 14.9% of its total workforce employed in government jobs, ranking 35th of all states.
* American Community Survey, US Census Bureau
* Public Sector Jobs: States where the most people work for government, 6/1/2018, USA Today
-- Government Spending and Debt
Total New Jersey state and local government spending in fiscal year 2018 was estimated at $112.7 billion, comprised of $62.5 billion at the state government level and $49.8 billion by local government. The total ranked seventh of all states, behind California; New York; Texas; Pennsylvania; Ohio; and Florida. In fiscal year 2010, the most recent year of available data as of fall 2018, the federal government reported expenditures of $81 billion in New Jersey, with $10.4 billion in defense spending and $70.6 billion in non-defense spending.
New Jersey is the fourth-highest among all states in the level of gross tax-supported debt, behind California, New York and Massachusetts. New Jersey also ranked fourth-highest in per-capita debt, behind Connecticut, Massachusetts and Hawaii, and fourth-highest in debt as a percentage of gross-domestic product, behind Connecticut, Hawaii and Massachusetts. New Jersey also has one of the worst bond ratings of any state, with bonded debt and the state’s large unfunded pension liability routinely cited as important factors by credit analysts. The overall total for both bonded and nonbonded debt is well above $200 billion, roughly five times the size of the state’s annual budget.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in the closure of economic activity and educational programs in the first months of 2020, New Jersey state and local governments face a high level of uncertainty on levels of government spending and tax revenues.
* Debt Report, NJ Department of Treasury
The overall tax burden (taxes as a percentage of personal income) on New Jersey residents was 9.86% in 2019, ranking 9th highest of all states and led by the 12.97% in New York, according to the annual survey published by WalletHub.com. The state ranked third of all states, however, in its property tax burden with 5.05%, behind only New Hampshire (5.45%) and Vermont (5.12%). The statewide average property tax in 2018 was $8,767, an increase of only $77 or 0.9% over the prior year, partly due to strong growth in the total tax ratable base as property values continued their recovery from the 2008-2009 recession. The total property tax levy was $29.8 billion, a 2.2% gain over 2017..
The nonprofit Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index ranked New Jersey as having the worst business tax climate of all states in 2019, stating that it is "...hampered by some of the highest property tax burdens in the country, recently implemented the second highest-rate corporate income tax in the country, levies an inheritance tax, and maintains some of the nation’s worst-structured individual income taxes."
* Facts and Figures 2020: How Does Your State Compare?, Tax Foundation
* 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index, Tax Foundation
* Which states have the highest and lowest property taxes?, 5/20/2019, USA Today