Solving New Jersey’s Budget Stalemate
Just because New Jersey’s legislature passes a budget authorization bill it doesn’t mean the Governor has to spend every last dime approved. It simply lays out the maximum the Governor is authorized to spend. So why not pass last year’s budget and allow state government to keep chugging along?
Jon Corzine’s budget plan for 2007 doesn’t need to be completely scrapped. He claims he cut spending by $2.6 billion, so he can use last year’s budget along with his spending cut blueprint throughout this year to run the state. Corzine’s new spending initiatives would
be deferred to future years.
Next June Corzine can prove he actually cut that $2.6 billion by posting a year-end budget surplus of at least that amount. With $2.6+ billion in savings safely in the state’s coffers, the legislature could then authorize a hefty contribution to the state worker pension funds and throw some property tax relief our way. Everybody’s happy, no tax increases, pensions funded, rebate checks larger and no government shut down. Of course if Governor Corzine hadn’t actually cut $2.6 billion in spending, we’d know that too.
Either way, we’d start the budget process off next year knowing whether or not Corzine had made a good faith effort to run the state with spending equal to reoccurring revenues. We would also know whether or not the Governor had made “hard choices” in cutting state spending or if he had used the pension fund contribution as a fig leaf to increse spending and ram though tax increases.