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


Yes, Governor, It’s a Rigged System Alright – Just Not In the Way You Say

“We are not dealing with a broken system,” said the governor. “This is a rigged system. This was designed by special interests for special interests.” That’s Governor Murphy discussing the report on the EDA by the task force he appointed, as reported by InsiderNJ. Yes, governor, it’s a rigged system alright, but the reality is…

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Another large public union rally at the Statehouse: who pays for it?

You do, taxpayers.  $129 million’s worth last year. Your property tax dollars pay for teacher salaries and the union’s dues are withheld from them, so your tax dollars flow through the district and the teachers directly to the NJEA.  Of this generous $129 million of funding, SPCNJ estimates that $65 million is spent on politics….

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The NJEA Spends $13.99 million Both FOR and AGAINST Sweeney

I guess when you have hundreds of millions of forced teacher dues, derived from siphoned off property tax dollars, you can afford to throw a lot of money around.   Even at cross-purposes.  In Insider NJ today, Edward Edwards points out that the NJEA’s independent expenditure arm, Garden State Forward, gave a Sweeney-affiliated PAC $5.55…

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Sen. Sweeney is right about the appearance of an NJEA-dominated Trenton

In an article by Dustin Racioppi and Charlie Stile in north jersey.com, Sen. Sweeney makes two good points about the current state of affairs in New Jersey. First, given that our governor appears in NJEA-funded TV ads, calling for NJEA policy priorities in the same language the NJEA uses, and that our governor then vetoed…

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Job Number One

By BuryPensions: The Sunlight Policy Center released another report yesterday blasting the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), this time for their complicity in the bankruptcy of the retirement system that included a helpful history though I disagreed on a couple of points. Unsurprisingly,the NJEA blames it all on the state: “The state’s failure to fund…

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Do You Really Understand New Jersey’s Pension Crisis?

…IT MIGHT BE TIME YOU LOOK AT THE FACTS. “Our excellent pension system . . . [is] the result of hard-fought legislation and politics.” -NJEA President Michael Johnson Everyone, including the NJEA, now agrees we have a crisis. It’s simply a fact that New Jersey’s pension system is the worst in the nation. That’s why…

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New Jersey’s Special-Interest-Dominated Status Quo Is NJEA’s Status Quo

Follow the NJEA’S Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Yourself –Their Return on Investment is Clear….and business is booming! Since its launch, the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey has revealed how the NJEA constructed a system that automatically and annually generates tens of millions of property tax dollars— presently $129 million—funneled directly into its coffers….

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Insider NJ – Sunlight Policy Center Report: How Much Does The NJEA Really Spend On Politics?

Sunlight Policy Center Report: How Much Does The NJEA Really Spend On Politics? Over the last two weeks, since our launch, the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey (SPCNJ) has shined a strong light on two important issues related to the powerful NJEA. We showed, with each step clearly sourced, how the NJEA leadership funds…

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