Tag Archive: state budget

The budget: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”

The Democrats on the senate and assembly budget committee meetings this week were less confrontational than in the past toward the State Treasurer who represents Gov. Christie’s interests. That was because in part the governor’s revenue estimate was more realistic and several important large-ticket items crowd out other unmet needs. So it might seem there is little to argue over, but such is not the case.

More so than in recent years there is insufficient revenue to meet the state’s required needs. The fact that our economic recovery during the Christie years has been poor only exacerbates the problem. Furthermore Christie’s presidential pandering to the far right makes reasonable solutions all the more difficult.

Billions of additional dollars are seemingly unavailable to meet state Pen/Ben contributions, to create a self-sustaining Transportation Trust Fund, and to support essential programs which are being starved. It would also help if there were billions more in the upcoming or succeeding years from Exxon-Mobile instead of the paltry  $225 million settlement. All of us would like lower property taxes, and those in Atlantic County desperately need more state assistance, which if not forthcoming could lead to bankruptcy and endanger the credit of other struggling municipalities.

What’s a Democratic legislator to do in this quandary? Make lemonade. All assemblypersons are up for re-election this year and increasing taxes is never popular. Nonetheless, hard decisions will have to be made by June 30. There are options available.  

We need preparedness not bluster to face future epidemic outbreaks

Politicians who go against the advice of experienced public health officials do so at their own peril and that of the people they serve. Gov. Christie should have learned this lesson in October and November when he ignored what the CDC and Ebola-experienced doctors recommended. Christie demanded instead a form of quarantine which was unnecessary and harmed the broader effort to encourage healthcare workers to assist Ebola patients and people at risk in Western Africa. In the process the focus was on detaining a nurse in an outdoor, poorly equipped tent. Christie’s approach may have played well with the far right, but it’s always bad judgment to play with epidemics.

The real focus going back months and even years earlier should have been on assuring that New Jersey was ready for a serious epidemic outbreak. Sadly, as a recent report indicates, New Jersey is among the eight states least prepared. The Trust for America’s Health has reported, “New Jersey Scored Three out of 10 on Key Indicators Related to Preventing, Detecting, Diagnosing and Responding to Outbreaks – Like Ebola, Enterovirus and Superbugs.” New Jersey failed in such areas as vaccinations, healthcare-acquired infections, climate change, preparing for emergency threats, and food safety.  

Christie’s Terrible Budget Solution to Meet the Shortfall

UPDATE: I have a Reaction Roundup to Christie’s announcement today posted in the side column to go with Bill’s post. You can read that HERE – Rosi.

Governor Christie announced this afternoon how he seeks to reduce the $800 million shortfall in the current budget and the over $1 billion shortfall in the budget starting July 1. He wants to reduce two key payments scheduled for the state’s pension system for public workers:

  • The payment scheduled before June 30 would be reduced by $900 million – from a $1.6 billion payment to $ 696 million

  • The payment scheduled for next year woulds be reduced by $1.6 billion – from $2.25 billion to $681 million.  

  • News Roundup & Open Thread for Monday, March 4, 2013

    Attending Belmar’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, presumptive Democratic candidate for Governor Barbara Buono mostly avoided talking politics. She declined to second-guess decisions made by Christie in the Jersey Shore’s recovery, but said, “The folks here have done an amazing job. I’m confident that the Shore will be ready when Memorial Day comes around.”

    A Wake-Up Call

  • A Blue-Ribbon Panel reveals shaky state of NJ’s water, gas, power, and transportation infrastructures. (NJ Spotlight)

    Governor Christie

  • On Fox News Sunday Mitt Romney said he does not blame Gov. Christie or Hurricane Sandy for his defeat. “I lost my election because of my campaign, not because of what anyone else did.”

  • At the Christie fundraiser held by Ed Rogers of AshBritt’s lobbyist group BGR the governor held court for 30 minutes at a question-and-answer session. Spotted at the event: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; Ed Gillespie; Christie confidante Mike DuHaime; BGR Group officers and others.

    Gun Safety

  • The Record’s Mike Kelly invites us to meet the AR-15, America’s and New Jersey’s weapon of choice.

  • At a gun rights forum in Teaneck a person holding a copy of the constitution asked Sen. Majority Leader Weinberg, “Where in here does it say you can regulate our rights?” She shot back that there have been regulations to the Bill of Rights since the founding of the country.

    Sex Trafficking

  • Maria’s harrowing descent: how one woman in New Jersey was ensnared.

  • Polaris rates the states on the statutes they have in place to prevent and prosecute human trafficking. New Jersey rates 6 out of 12 possible points.

  • The “Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act”  (A3352) passed in the Assembly and is being reviewed in the Senate.

    Under The Dome

  • Today 9:30 AM (State House): Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Meeting: to hear testimony on Hurricane Sandy rebuilding and planning issues.

  • Tuesday 9:00 AM (State House) : Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee: to hold the first Public Hearing on the FYI 2014 State Budget. The Record: “Contained in the fine print of Christie’s latest budget documents is an admission that the administration’s bold prediction of a 7.2 percent rise in revenue for the current fiscal year will not come true.”  

  • Tuesday 11:00 AM (State House) Joint Committee on the Public Schools: Marc Larkins, CEO of the NJ Schools Development Authority, will update members on school facilities and construction.

  • Friday 1:30 PM (State House): Senate & Assembly Legislative Oversight Committees: to take testimony from invited persons about Superstorm Sandy debris cleanup. (See Senator Weinberg’s Sunday Op-Ed piece on AshBritt, Christie & Sandy in the Record.)

    LD 39

  • Republicans picked Bob Auth, Old Tappan Republican municipal chairman, to run for Assemblyman Robert Schroeder’s seat. Incumbent Schroeder pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he allegedly stole more than $1.8 million.

    Internet Gambling

  • Is the recent legalization of NJ internet gambling a cause for celebration in Atlantic City? Or is it a distinct invitation to customers to NOT visit AC and gamble at home?

    No surprise for a bridge dating back to 1873

  • A Conrail official said Saturday that the Paulsboro railroad bridge damaged during a derailment Nov. 30 will be replaced rather than repaired.

  • Despite the Tax Cut Theatrics, Nothing Has Changed: Waiting is the Responsible Decision

    This good diary, from New Jersey Policy Perspective’s David Rousseau came just before we took Independence Day off. Still a good read – promoted by Rosi.

    Some thoughts on yesterday’s special session from NJPP’s David Rousseau. Cross-posted at NJPP.org.

    The decision to delay consideration of any tax cut due to wobbly revenues is still the correct and responsible one. Nothing that Gov. Christie said yesterday changes that fact, or any of the facts that back it up.

    Let’s break those facts down, shall we?

    “Listen to What I Say, Not What I Do:” When Numbers Clash with Rhetoric in Budget-Making

    promoted by Rosi

    Former state treasurer David Rousseau is blogging his analysis of this year’s budget process over at NJPP.org. Here’s his take on how the rhetoric and the reality don’t quite match on higher education funding:

    “I am proud to say this budget proposes a nearly 6% increase in direct aid to our senior public colleges and universities. We are able to help make college more available and affordable for New Jersey families. But we need to do more.” – Governor Christie, FY 2013 Budget Speech (February 21, 2012)

    “$80.1 Million of the Additional Funding Goes Directly to the Twelve State Colleges and Research Institutions. Total State support for State colleges and research institutions increases by 6% to over $1.4 billion, supporting day-to-day operations and to pay for the cost of employee fringe benefits.” – FY 2013 Budget Summary (page 54)

    “Direct operating aid for senior public institutions of higher education in FY 2013 is recommended at $716.5 million, which is the same amount that was appropriated in FY 2012.” – FY 2013 OLS Higher Educational Services Budget Analysis (page 2)

    “Thus, the FY 20123 budget recommendation of $1.418 billion for total State support for the senior public institutions is an increase of 0.72% of $10.1 million over the anticipated FY 2012 expenditure of $1.408 billion.” – FY 2013 OLS Higher Educational Services Budget Analysis (page 16)

    Politicians as a species do not like being caught lying. They rely instead on telling the (very) incomplete truth. This is called “spin.” Spin is universally practiced by politicians (as well as lobbyists, bureaucrats and business executives), even in budget messages.

    More details after the jump.

    Asking Everyone to Pay Their Fair Share is *Not* a Partisan Issue

    Well, this seems like a post that might provoke some interesting comments … promoted by Rosi

    Cross-posted at NJPP.org

    Efforts to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes to keep our communities strong are often spun as “Democratic” or “liberal” ideas. But the truth is, fair taxation is not a partisan issue. Here in New Jersey, strong majorities that include an increasing number of independents and Republicans want big corporations and the wealthiest individuals to pay their fair share.

    The latest to speak out? Former state Sen. Bill Schluter.  

    NJ JOBS: The Governor and the Legislature Working Together

    Tomorrow President Obama will deliver his much anticipated jobs speech. His goal should be to present programs which will meaningfully boost immediate job creation and be able to gain passage in a dysfunctional congress  – a daunting task. One program being considered is Fix America’s Schools Today which would help our construction industry. Other job-related aid to states is important as they struggle with balanced budget requirements.

    In the meantime back to New Jersey where there are tasks for our own government. In the first NJ JOBS diary we discussed the “wrong Track” approach currently being taken, then in the second diary the need to revitalize our manufacturing sector. In the third diary we discussed infrastucture jobs both to prime the pump and provide relief.