New Jersey Family Policy Council: Governor’s Budget Misses the Mark in Addressing State’s Fiscal Woes

TRENTON: The New Jersey Family Policy Council (NJFPC) today responded to Governor Jon Corzine’s Budget Address for Fiscal Year 2009, stating the governor’s proposed budget falls short of true reform and continues to look to taxpayers to foot the state’s bills.

“Governor Corzine today outlined what many would call ambitious spending cuts in the state’s budget,” said NJFPC President Len Deo, “But while the sound bites are there, the right substance is not, and under the proposed budget, 30 percent of New Jersey residents would see their property tax relief either reduced or completely eliminated. What’s more, the governor still has not abandoned his ill-thought idea of burdening New Jersey’s drivers with up to 800% in toll hikes.”

Governor Corzine proposed a $500 million reduction in state spending – or a 1.5% cut from this year’s spending levels. Included in this cut are the elimination of three Cabinet departments: Personnel, Agriculture, and Commerce and the elimination of 5,000 state jobs, either through layoffs or early retirement. Fifty percent of political appointees, however, will keep their jobs.

Additionally, approximately 10 percent of households – those earning $150,000 or more – will see their property tax rebates totally eliminated, and an additional 20 percent – those earning between $100,000 and $150,000 – will see their rebates slashed by over 30 percent.

Furthermore, the governor still plans to increase state spending for school aid by $550 million, the largest such increase in state history.

“While it’s nice to see that the governor has finally admitted the need to cut spending, it’s outlandish that he intends to keep half of all political appointees on the state’s payroll while cutting property tax relief for already-overburdened taxpayers,” said Deo. “And when we put the proposed budget in context, we may have a $500 million reduction in state spending next year, but even with this reduction, the budget would still be almost 20 percent larger than it was when Governor Corzine first took office.”

“To make matters worse,” Deo added, “Governor Corzine admitted that even with the spending reductions, next year’s budget will still have a $1.7 billion structural shortfall. Despite this, the governor indicated that he’s still holding onto his idea of a massive toll hike on New Jersey’s roadways – a plan that does nothing to address future structural shortfalls.”

In light of this, the New Jersey Family Policy Council today renewed its call for the state to shoulder the load of its own waste and mismanagement through:

- Implementing 10% spending cuts across the board, in every state department;
- Enacting hiring freezes at all levels of government;
- Requiring voter approval for any spending increases, retroactively including the $550 million intended for school spending; and
- Refusing to increase the tax burden on New Jerseyans in any way, including through raising tolls or cutting much-needed tax relief.

“The families of New Jersey deserve nothing less than major cuts by Trenton before Trenton tries to cut relief for the families of New Jersey,” concluded Deo.