New Jersey Family First: State of the State

(TRENTON) – Today, New Jersey Family First, the legislative action arm of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, issued the following statement in response to Governor Corzine’s remark, last Thursday morning–on the NJ 101.5 FM Jim Gearhart show – that he is not hearing from the people.

“Consider this a message from the people of New Jersey,” said NJ Family First’s Len Deo. “The governor’s toll plan amounts to little more than the fleecing of New Jersey taxpayers, again, in order to support chronic irresponsible spending in Trenton.  Instead of enacting any real spending cuts, he plans to hike tolls and pass the burden of debt payment on to New Jersey commuters.”

“That’s not even the worst of it,” Deo continued. “Governor Corzine now also wants to create a so-called ‘public benefits corporation’ that will borrow up to $38 billion – or about equal to the state’s budget for an entire year – to help pay off the state debt.  This is, in essence, a $38 billion bailout that does nothing to solve the long-term problem of fiscal waste and mismanagement by our legislators and executive.”

Governor Corzine’s remarks on the Jim Gearhart show come after his Tuesday State of the State address, in which he presented his four-part plan to fix the state’s fiscal crisis and then stated that if New Jerseyans had a better plan, he is open to it.  The governor’s strategy involves freezing spending at this year’s current level, prohibiting any future spending from exceeding recurring revenue growth, establishing a “public benefits corporation” to raise roadway tolls and borrow billions for debt payment and transportation infrastructure improvements, and mandate that all future state debt that does not have a dedicated source of revenue to fund it be approved by the voters.

“We do have a better plan,” Deo stated, “and it requires significant, across-the-board spending cuts.  We recommend that each state department and agency be required to cut its operating budget by 10% this year, that the state freeze spending at that level for the next 3 years, and that any additional spending bills – including A-2135, the bill recently passed by the General Assembly which raises judicial salaries – be vetoed by the governor until the state is once again on stable financial footing.”

“Frankly, given the governor’s past track record of raising spending with each of his first two budgets, we question whether he is serious about tightening Trenton’s belt or if he is just continuing to assume he can pass on the cost of debt to the state’s citizens indefinitely,” said Deo.  “As his first step toward showing he is serious, we ask the governor to veto A-2135, which significantly increases judicial salaries and prosecutors’ salaries.  Now is no time to think about spending hikes.  It is time, however, for the governor to start showing a bit of the responsibility and restraint that citizens expect of their leaders.  The people of New Jersey deserve no less.”