The legislature put out their schedule for the first three months of 2009 and it tells us about a few dates of significance.
First, the Governor will deliver his State of the State address on Tuesday, January 13, before a joint session of the Legislature. We’re in a difficult position right now with many problems on our plate, so this will probably be a very sobering address setting the stage for what we have to come. Last year’s speech presented us with this agenda for the Governor:
“One: Freeze spending now,” Corzine said. “Two: Limit future spending to revenue growth. Three: Capture the enterprise value of our tollways to pay down debt and make capital investments. Four: Limit borrowing by requiring voter authorization.”
We already have the pension deferral plan that’s on hold, property tax reform, a projected budget shortfall, school financing, ethics reform and affordable housing as looming issues on the agenda.
The second significant event on the calendar is the Governor’s budget address. This will chart the course for the future of our state and unveil the Governor’s proposals to balance our budget. It is tentatively scheduled for February 24.
We also have the political reality that the Governor and members of the Assembly will have their names on the ballot come November serving as a backdrop.
Some tough decisions are going to have to be made in these economic times in order to meet the midnight deadline of June 30 for balancing the budget. That journey begins come the New Year and it may be a bumpy ride.