"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Governor Corzine’s Budget 'Cuts'

Governor Corzine claims he made “hard choices” to cut spending when he developed his new $30.9 billion budget for New Jersey. Here is Corzine’s entire list of budget cuts.

Spending Cuts FY 2007 (Budget in Brief, Page 63)

FY 2006 Legislative Additions - $193.22 million
Senior Public College Support- $89.57 million
County College Operating Aid - $16.26 million
Independent College and Universities Support - $11.98 million
Extraordinary and Special Municipal Aid - $29.41 million
Regional Efficiency Aid Program - $10.99 million
Cancer Hospital Grants - $23.30 million

The $193.22 million Corzine eliminated from “legislative additions” is nothing more than pork barrel spending that never should have been funded last year. This includes such items as $2.5 million for a Newark Museum, $4.75 million for Character Education and $2 million for the West New York Parking Authority. (Budget in Brief, Page 80)

The total of $117.81 million in spending the Governor eliminated from senior colleges, county colleges and independent colleges includes $46 million in “one-time funding” - $28 million in “one-time funding” for UMDNJ and $18 million in “one-time funding” for Rutgers. Eliminating "one-time funding" is not a cut. (Budget in Brief, Page 80)

The Governor suggests the remaining $59.83 million cut to government owned institutions of higher education can be recovered by the colleges. His suggestions include eliminating no show jobs, no bid contracts and other wasteful spending. The colleges can begin a four-year phase-in of charging out-of-state students the full cost of their education and low-priority or duplicative programs could be scaled back or eliminated. The remaining $11.98 million cut in higher education is from private colleges, a questionable use of state funds from the start. (Budget in Brief, Page 28)

The total of $40.4 million in cuts for municipal aid grants, $29.41 million for Extraordinary and Special Municipal Aid and $10.99 million for the Regional Efficiency Aid Program, were supposed to a “one-time funding” source for targeted municipalities. The Governor indicates these programs have achieved their objectives and were never intended to be an on-going funding source for special municipalities. This year's budget retains $108.4 million in Extraordinary and Special Municipal Aid (Budget in Brief, Pages 23 and Page71)

The $23.3 million decrease for Cancer Hospital Grants is achieved by focusing the grants solely on research and reducing the funding of operations and construction. The $41 million remaining in the budget for Cancer Hospital Grants “still represents a 46% increase in comparison to the original State appropriation provided in fiscal 2004.” (Budget in Brief, Page 32)

That’s it, those are the cuts. The Governor does provide a list of savings that he proposes to achieve through administrative efficiencies, maximizing federal revenues and reimbursements, bulk purchasing of pharmaceuticals, establishing cooperative purchasing contracts, eliminating state worker pension abuse, and reducing fraud and noncompliance in the receipt of state funds or the payment of taxes. (Budget in Brief)

We are very happy to see Governor Corzine is eliminating some pork barrel spending and intends to save taxpayers money through management and purchasing efficiencies. Curtailing fraud and abuse of state funds is a real plus, but do any of Corzine’s cuts and savings rise to the level of “hard choices”?

Corzine’s new spending in this budget totals more than $4 billion. What tax dollars Corzine does manage to “save”, he quickly spends it all away on existing or new programs and then adds $2.6 billion more to the budget for a 9.2% increase over last year. Taxpayers are supposed to be excited because he is funding the additional spending through tax increases, rather the gimmicks.

What gets lost in the praise for raising revenues to equal expenditures, is the big unanswered question – why are we spending $4 billion more? We are all for state spending not exceeding state revenue, but the same “no gimmick” funding could have been achieved with less spending and no tax increases. It’s a pity the wizard of Wall Street couldn’t or refused to figure that out.

Contact information

Governor Jon S. Corzine:

Email: Link to email submission form
Address: Office of the Governor - PO Box 001- Trenton, NJ 08625

New Jersey Legislature (Assembly and Senate):
Telephone and Address: Lookup for official's address and phone number
Email: Lookup for officials' email form


At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more you diagnose this budget, it becomes apparent the painful cuts were made with smoke and mirrors. The level of corruption and incompetence in this state is downright scary and may be impossible to overcome. I still believe we are 14 months away from a federal takeover.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger PN said...

I'm not inclined to give Corzine any slack, but I do think there are at least two items where he deserves a break: (1) pension fund contributions (which have been minimal to non-existent in recent years); and (2) ending the withdrawals from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to pay for operating expenses. These two items total approximately $1.1 billion, and should have been addressed long ago.

Having said that, the budget fails to propose any substantive change in the really big ticket cost drivers: pension benefits, post-retirement medical benefits, Abbott district spending, etc, etc. There is also no commitment to increasing NJ's miserable level of Federal funding relative to Federal taxes paid.

Corzine would have us believe that property tax "reform" later this year will fix the problem, but this is a diversionary tactic at best. It looks like Corzine is trying to buy time, but a dead fish doesn't improve with age.

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