Welcome to the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey (SPCNJ). Thank you for visiting our site.

The SPCNJ is based on research I completed for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in 2016-17 that resulted in the five-part “Legal Corruption” series. You can find these reports in the “AEI Series” section of the site.

For decades the most powerful political force in the state – the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) – has thoroughly dominated New Jersey politics, rigged the system for its own benefit and brought our state to the brink of insolvency. Our pension and benefit crisis, our worst-in-the-nation tax system, and our underperforming state economy are largely attributable to the NJEA’s political dominance.

We believe that if New Jersey citizens knew these facts they would be outraged that a powerful special interest built a status quo that uses their tax dollars against their own interests, secures benefits for the few over the many, and blocks needed reforms.

As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said: “Sunlight is the best of disinfectants.” For the future of our state and the next generations of New Jerseyans, it’s time to shine a light on these facts and change the status quo.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any thoughts or questions. Thanks again for your interest.

Mike Lilley, President and Founder of SPCNJ

May 20, 2019


Mission  Goals  Board of Trustees

Policy Issues

We publish studies, briefing papers, and other educational materials to inform New Jersey citizens about the nature and underlying causes of our special-interest-dominated status quo. We provide research to help policymakers and the media gain a better understanding of these issues.

The Taxpayer-Funded NJEA Political Machine

The NJEA’s Dominant Political Influence

New Jersey’s Pension and Benefit Crisis

New Jersey’s Sky-high Taxes

The New Jersey Economy and Outmigration

The NJEA’S Network of Allies and Affiliates

Sunlight Blog


Tax Foundation: N.J. is suing over the SALT cap to enable tax avoidance, help high earners

Jared Walczak of the Tax Foundation wrote an op-ed in today’s Star-Ledger about New Jersey’s suing the federal government over the $10,000 cap on the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes. Walczak captures the situation perfectly:  “Ultimately, this lawsuit may be more about posturing than law. It’s about supposedly progressive states trying to…

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BuryPensions goes where Jay Lassiter won’t: Look where the NJEA spends teachers’ dues.

InsiderNJ’s Jay Lassiter wrote a column this morning about the influence of special interests over New Jersey politicians.  Lassiter rightly questions who these pols are working for.  But he curiously failed to mention the most powerful special interest of all: the NJEA. John Bury of BuryPensions posted a piece that looks at how and where…

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InsiderNJ’s Lassiter decries special interest influence on politicians but leaves out the biggest one.

InsiderNJ columnist Jay Lassiter rightly calls out the influence of special interests on New Jersey politicians.  He mentions New Direction New Jersey (NDNJ), the “dark money” group backing a millionaire’s tax.  He also mentions Speaker Coughlin’s law firm, Assemblywoman Lampitt and others sponsoring legislation for special interests , and Senator Lagana’s ties to the insurance…

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Another $1 million from the NJEA deepens the governor’s conflict of interest

The North Jersey Record reported today that the NJEA funneled another $1 million to the dark money group New Direction New Jersey (NDNJ) – this time via its Super PAC Garden State Forward.  SPCNJ previously discovered that the NJEA had donated $2.5 million to NDNJ, so the NJEA has now pumped $3.5 million of its…

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MIKE LILLEY | JULY 24, 2019 The NJEA was a major funder for the ‘dark money’ group that is pushing governor’s millionaires tax Mike Lilley Earlier this year, the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey shined a light on the controversial “dark money” political-action group New Direction New Jersey. NDNJ is run by the same…

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SPCNJ’s Mike Lilley named to InsiderNJ’s “Insider 100 Policymakers 2019”

Thank you, InsiderNJ, for the recognition of SPCNJ and the work we have been doing. Here’s the InsiderNJ entry for #99 Mike Lilley:  “On the opposing side of the NJEA, the Princeton grad and former head of Better Education For Kids started the self-funded Sunlight Policy Center, which has released a steady stream of cited…

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Sunlight on NJEA Role in Tax Hikes

The Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey released another report today – “NJEA: Higher Taxes – Who Has Been Complaing About the Sales Tax Anyway“. Excerpts below: Thanks to the NJEA’s lobbying, state law permits collective bargaining for multiyear contracts with career salary schedules. The NJEA directs local associations to use “step and lane”salary guides,…

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Are You Curious Why New Jersey’s Taxes Are So High?

ARE YOU CURIOUS WHY NEW JERSEY’S TAXES ARE SO HIGH? READ ON… “Increasing the gas tax makes sense…And who has been complaining about the sales tax, anyway?” — NJEA Executive Director Ed Richardson, 2016.   For the last six weeks, the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey has been releasing a series of thoroughly researched…

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