New Jersey's many number plates

What is it about New Jersey and number plates?

The state currently offers 21 approved specaility number plates supporting various causes such as conservation to keep our streets clean.

The number plates display a motorist's special interests. However, each new design costs the state roughly $90,000 to produce - money that must be recouped before the charities get a dime from the sale of the number plates.

The Motor Vehicle Commission also offers what are called number specialty plates - there are 41 of these, noting that you are a proud alumni of this or that college, or a veteran of this or that military unit. A new specialty plate only costs the state about $11,000 to produce, and the organizations have to have 200 orders first. But still, they are not revenue generators for the state.

And, of course, New Jersey also produces and sells specialty number plates for current and former county officials, judges, current and former mayors, and current and former members of the Legislature.

These are just plain sad, in the case of plates for former officials. And the plates are just plain offensive, in the case of current officials or judges. The message there is that police officers had better think twice before pulling you over.

Can someone tell us why New Jersey shouldn't get completely out of the dedicated and specialty number plate business? Just have one New Jersey number plate for everyone.

A bill to do exactly that was considered by an Assembly committee last week. But lawmakers rejected that measure and, instead, approved a bill that would replace the current system for number plates with a decal system. The state would produce one style of decal-ready number plates.

We can live with that. It's an improvement. Eliminate the number plates for all current and former elected officials and all judges, and the bill would be even better (and, of course, elicit some delightfully painful squawking from those who will lose the ability to tell the world who they are through their number plates).

Really, folks. Dedicated and specialty number plates don't seem to be a particularly effective way for groups to raise money. And the number plates that tell the world what a VIP you are .

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