I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name…
After two days, in the desert sun, my skin began to turn red.
After three days, in the desert fun, I was looking at a river bed.
And the story it told, of a river that flowed,
made me sad to think it was dead.
– Dewey Bunnell: A Horse With No Name
So the Democrats failed to override Governor Christie’s veto, and the river that flowed now appears dead. However, all is not lost. The Star Ledger reports, “Negotiations between Gov. Chris Christie and legislators on restoring up to $139 million for New Jersey’s neediest cities are likely to begin this week.” Also, the Assembly Budget Committee this week will listen as members of the public and representatives of groups detail how the governor’s cuts may affect programs that serve children and Senior citizens.
The cuts were excessive and vindictive. As, Mark Magyar points in NJSpotlight, The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) projected that revenues would be $913 million more than originally anticipated, while Christie’s treasurer came in with a projected increase of just $511 million. That $402 million difference would have been more than enough to restore funds for important projects. Instead Christie made even more cuts, including further cuts in OLS’s budget.
The cuts were mean-spirited and tear at our social fabric. As Raymond J. Castro explains in NJ Policy Perspective, One in six New Jerseyans will be adversely affected by line-item vetoes of two critical programs – the state Earned Income Tax Credit and NJ Family Care. News from our urban cities reflects unmanageable fires in Camden, crime in Newark and financial crisis throughout.
There are many, many more cuts that were excessive, vindictive, mean-spirited and tear at our social fabric. However, does Christie care and will he ameliorate the problem? Possibly yes. Unemployment last month in NJ ticked up to 9.4%, housing is still in the doldrums, real estate taxes have not declined, and public employees are increasingly mad. A large swath of New Jerseyans have reason to be disaffected. A Bloomberg poll released at the end of June said “More people’s opinions of Christie have worsened than improved.”
Democratic legislators, having fallen off the horse on their first effort, appear to be getting right back on it. With their perseverance and an unhappy electorate, it may yet rain in the desert and that river show signs of life.