State and local budgets are arguably the toughest challenge that citizens and politicians need to face. After all, unlike the Federal government, the state cannot run a deficit, nor can it print money. So it was with great interest and anticipation that I attended the release of a report from the State Budget Crisis Task Force earlier today.
As the presentation started in a ballroom at the Trenton Marriott, the panelists took to the stage and one thing hit me in the head like a falling anvil. Everyone on the stage was a white male. And with the exception of the moderator, John Mooney of NJ Spotlight, all had gray hair. To me, this was is hardly an approach that instills confidence that the interests of all of the citizens of one of the most diverse states in the nation are accounted for in the report.
Nevertheless, there were some big names on that platform. Representing the umbrella organization, the State Budget Crisis Task Force were Paul Volcker and Richard Ravitch. Among the VIPs in the audience was former Governor Jim Florio.
Volcker, a New Jersey native, is a former chair of the Federal Reserve. Ravitch, is a former Lieutenant Governor of New York (and ex-husband of education advocate Diane Ravitch). The Task Force has done similar analyses in several other states. Here in New Jersey, the leader of the group is Richard Keevey of the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration in Newark.
(L to R) Paul Volcker, Richard Ravitch, Richard Keevey