"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Giving New Jersey’s Budget Their BEST

We can just imagine the folks in Trenton working on Acting Governor Codey’s budget proposal for New Jersey – looking for anything to close the $4 billion budget gap. Developing the budget in our state must be an extremely difficult task, because strategic planning in New Jersey is almost non-existent.

The state does not have a statewide strategic plan and there is limited agency planning. There is little evidence of a state and agency-wide formal process to produce and use performance and cost information during the budgeting process. So lacking any plan, costing models or data to evaluate program effectiveness, we guess they just “wing it”. Little wonder New Jersey is in such a fiscal mess.

That reminds us, what ever happened to the BEST commission? In FY 2003, Trenton appropriated $250,000 for the Budget Efficiency Savings Team (BEST). This commission was established by Executive Order No. 2 of 2002 to undertake a “complete comprehensive and thorough examination of all aspects of the state’s spending practices to identify areas of waste, mismanagement, abuse, and unnecessary spending.”

The BEST Commission was supposed to provide the Governor with a list of recommendations and was supposed to issue a final report of its findings. So far, no report has been issued and this is not the only report the New Jersey's executive branch has failed to prepare over the years.

It makes you wonder what became of BEST and their report. Was the $250,000 spent? Was the report completed but, the findings just too embarrassing to be shown to the public? Was a decision made not to undertake the project because its mission wasn’t a priority to the leaders in Trenton?

Can you believe McGreevey and company raised state spending by double digits after writing this document.

WHEREAS, the State is confronting a severe fiscal crisis caused by a pattern of profligate spending and irresponsible borrowing practices;

WHEREAS, these fiscal practices have been exacerbated by increasing statutory spending obligations and declining tax revenues;

WHEREAS, the State has heretofore failed, even in the face of mounting evidence that the State would confront tremendous and debilitating budget deficits in Fiscal Years 2003 and 2004, to implement timely remedial actions such as implementing significant budget freezes, cutting costs and ending unnecessary discretionary spending.

WHEREAS, the denial of the magnitude of the fiscal problems confronting the State and the consequent failure to take sufficient and timely corrective actions have placed the State in fiscal jeopardy, causing the leading rating agencies to downgrade New Jersey's creditworthiness;

WHEREAS, the unprecedented scope of the fiscal dilemma has impaired and will impair the ability of the State to provide necessary programs to its citizens;

WHEREAS, as Governor, I have a responsibility to ensure a balanced budget, manage the operations of State Government effectively and efficiently, and maintain necessary government programs and assistance to the public;

WHEREAS, N.J. Const. (1947), Art. VIII, §II, ¶2, requires that State government expenditures do not exceed available State revenues....



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