Corzine’s Inaugural Address as Governor of New Jersey
New Jersey has collected 31% more from income taxes and 10% more in sales taxes in just the past two years alone. The “state is pretty much broke” because state spending has increased by 60% since 2001 from $21.3 billion to the $34 billion budget Corzine faces today.
New Jersey’s treasury was “flush with money”. However, rather than acting responsibly, our representatives in Trenton spent all the additional tax revenue and didn’t stop until the state was facing a $5.3 billion budget deficit and untold billions more in long-term debt. This is spending beyond your means and then some.
Governor Corzine says New Jersey “must learn to live within its means”. We agree and hope Corzine will bring a business approach to the fiscal disaster the state now faces. The budget axe should be his first tool of choice and we are heartened by Corzine’s recognition that Trenton “much change how our government does business, and we must remember, it is the people for whom we work”. For too long the taxpayer has been working for the government and Corzine’s acknowledgment of this fact is a good start.
Governor Corzine asks only one thing of the citizens of New Jersey - hold him accountable. He can count on us to do just that.
I know you share my belief that it is time for us to change all of that -- time for change, not because I am a new governor or because I am so righteous, but because it is the right thing to do and the public demands it. There was a clear message heard last fall: we must change how our government does business, and we must remember, it is the people for whom we work.
To earn the public trust, we must act, but we also must trust the people with the truth. We cannot build a financial future on the crumbling, papered-over foundation of a recurring fiscal crisis. Too often, for too long, under both parties, fiscal gimmicks have been invented, recycled, and reapplied to mask fiscal realities. As Governor Codey said in November, his transition report can be summed up simply: “the state is pretty much broke.”
The process of reestablishing our financial integrity will not be painless. Tough choices are ahead. I would prefer to be a governor with a public treasury flush with money to spend on good things for our state or further reduce the people’s tax burden. But that is not the hand we have been dealt. And it is our task to do the best we can with today’s stark realities. The state, like every responsible family, must learn to live within its means.
New Jersey’s prosperity is challenged by the deteriorating fundamentals of our economy. To put it simply, we are growing too few jobs, losing high paying, value-added jobs and replacing them with lower paying service work.
Economic growth and social justice need not be adversaries. With a policy and economic strategy to “invest, grow and prosper” we can and we will overcome our current problems, and meet future challenges.
So I call on all my fellow public servants to join in an historic effort to end the toxic mix of politics, money and public business – at every level of New Jersey government.
We will examine every program, measure performance, demand more for less, and root out spending that merely serves political not public purposes.
So I close with a simple pledge: that in the choices I make as your Governor, I will be guided by one principle – What is best for New Jersey.
And, in turn, I ask you – the citizens of New Jersey, hold me accountable.