Column: Trenton Chaos the Norm This Time of Year

Backroom deals and uninformed voting continue to rule in June.

The end of June is the worst time in Trenton.

It is rivaled only by the end of a legislative session in January, though the shenanigans that happen in the lame duck session generally don’t involve the spending of billions of the people’s tax dollars.

The games that began last week in the State House, and will continue this week, are textbook displays of political partisanship, backroom deals and poor public policy making, not to mention a disregard for people.

Take, for instance, last Monday’s Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing. The committee set a start time of 9:30 a.m. and the room was packed as there were 21 bills on the agenda. Some of those bills were very controversial, and others in various stages of un-readiness: three had been added that morning, two were still pending referral and a third was awaiting introduction. Not all deals had been sealed, so the hearing did not even begin until 12:30 p.m., three hours later.

The committee took care of some business, then recessed around 4 p.m. to … seal more deals. The Democrats caucused for about two hours and when they came out, they immediately went to work.

Not hardly. They went into a back room to eat.

At about 6:30 p.m., they did get back to work, having gotten the votes they needed for the controversial higher education restructuring and merger bill, despite still having no idea what the plan would cost.

After approving that bill, they flew through a number of other measures that would normally have taken many hours—as well they should have, given the amount of money they want to spend.

There was a $750 million bond question to fund construction projects at the state’s colleges—public and private. And there was a bill extending the Transportation Trust Fund through 2016, the total fiscal impact of which was estimated by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services to be $6.7 billion. But most people had left and everyone who remained was itching to get out.

Last Thursday, that same committee had to vote on a $31.7 billion budget for New Jersey for the coming fiscal year. It had received the bill only an hour earlier, according to Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) and a member of the committee.

Bucco and the Republicans, naturally, objected to the Democrats’ delay of the tax cut that Gov. Chris Christie has been craving.

The Democrats countered that the tax cut will come if the money is available, which certainly seems to be sound policy. And they have real doubts about the money being available, since the OLS projects the treasury department overstated its revenue estimates by $1.4 billion.

The problem, though, is that after loudly criticizing Christie’s wildly optimistic revenue numbers, the Democrats used those same estimates in their own budget.

Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), chairman of the committee, said only the governor certifies revenue numbers.

That doesn’t mean the Democrats had to commit to spend all the money Christie says the state will have if they think he’s wrong.

After shifting some allocations to account for their own priorities, the Democrats say their budget spends $62 million less than the governor’s and includes $183 million more in surplus.

That’s great, but what about the other $1.1 billion-plus in revenues they’ve been crying for months the state won’t have to spend in the year that begins July 1?

One of the items added to the budget was a comparatively tiny expenditure of $69,000 for the Henry J. Raimondo New Jersey Legislative Fellows Program. Among the purposes of that program, according to the law creating it, is to “foster awareness and appreciation in younger citizens of this State of how laws are created, and encourage these students to be involved with State government throughout their careers.”

Not if they see what really happens in Trenton in June, it won’t.

Roll Back Our Tax June 25, 2012 at 11:57 AM
LOL....this guy thinks the whole state of NJ is corrupt. http://thomascaggiano.com/index.htm "The Tyranny of United States of America's Department of Justice and the corrupt State of New Jersey's former ex-Gov Jon Corzine was thrown out of Goldman Sacks, spent $011 Mollion to get a second term as Gov of NJ and was thrown out of Office not being re-elected and then out of CEO MF Global as he authorized using legally segregated client's funds in risky beats on foreign bonds which collapsed whle getting no criminal charges filed against him as once again the WALL STREET scoundrels get a pat on the wrist from the Security Exhage Commission and U.S.Attorney. Jon Corzine's (D) administration was followed by an even MORE corrupt administration that being Chris Christie's (R)for as the corrupt U.S. Attorney (NJ) and now as New Jersey's corrupt Governor. The corrupt ex-Governor Corzine has returned as WALL STREET money man and as a money bundler of funds for the Obama's Chicago based gang".
Roll Back Our Tax June 25, 2012 at 12:01 PM
http://freedomnewsdigest.com or Other CAG Reports some exceeding 100 pages are also available on the directory pdf by clicking here /pdf Thomas Caggiano is now a witness providing thousands of records, hours of audio recordings, court transcripts to Washington D.C.'s FBI HQs, Federal and State of IRS criminal investigation divisions, U.S.P.S. Inpsection Service for mail fraud, conspiracy and harassment in HQ, Arizona, Chicago, IL, Nv, NJ, State of New Jersey's Supreme Court Office of Attorney Ethics OAE, and State of New Jersey's State Police's West Trenton's Official Corruption Bureau and Office of Comptroller/Inspector General. Prior corrupt State of New Jersey Governor James Mc Greevy: Resigned from Office. Prior corrupt Gov. Jon Corzine (D): State of the State Speech - New Jersey is a Toxic mix of money and politics. Voted our of office Current Corrupt N.J. Administration Gov. Chris Christie(R) State of the State Speech: New Jersey is a Failed State Moody's Investment Service: Downgrades New Jersey bonds do to fiscal unfunded liabilities and financially broke State.
Roll Back Our Tax June 25, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Where's this state headed.....to the dump. Monday, March 12th, 2012...."While the theme today has been the US State Debt, why not continue. During after hours of the trading day, news was released that the S&P downgrade of New Jersey marks the first time it has downgraded a U.S. state since announcing new criteria in January -that it said would better incorporate debt, pension, and other post-employment liabilities such as healthcare benefits into rating decisions". http://blog.wallstreetgrand.com/tag/municipal-debt/ "PIIGS vs. CINN, who really is in worse shape? PIIGS is a grouping acronym used by international bond analysts, academics, and by the international economic press that refers to the faltering and often indebted economies of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain, often in regards to matters relating to sovereign debt markets. CINN is a grouping acronym which consists of US States indebted economies of California, Illinois, New Jersey, & New York. Out of the four, Illinois is currently with the highest debt ratio in comparison to revenue and population. Illinois is considered the highest risk factor in the US. California in comparison to world GDP if it were a country would be ranked 7th. They’ll be able to withstand a little more pressure however bond vigilantes are ready to pounce on the weakest link in the Union".
Roll Back Our Tax June 25, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 one year ago To understand why New Jersey needs this line of credit, it’s helpful to take a step back and look at state budgeting: http://blog.wallstreetgrand.com/tag/new-jersey/ "New Jersey’s budget runs from July 1 to June 30. The state’s spending, in theory, is spelled out in the budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. In real life, however, the state’s income (read: taxes) and its bills don’t have a cycle that’s simple to manage. The state makes most of its money through income taxes and other levies in the 4th quarter, which runs from April through June. http://blog.wallstreetgrand.com/2011/06/new-jersey-files-for-a-bridge-loan/ "The state has been digging around in its pockets, worried about having enough cash to pay the bills. Gov. Chris Christie has turned to J.P. Morgan Chase to negotiate a line of credit worth up to $2.25 billion that could be tapped in the coming weeks. This is the second time in three years that New Jersey has pulled together this type of a backup plan. Former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, received a $2 billion line of credit from J.P. Morgan Chase in 2009. But he never used it, thanks to last-minute tax revenue. At the time, Republicans criticized him for the move. State Sen. Kevin O’Toole, now a close ally of fellow Republican Christie, blasted Corzine for taking on more debt to pay off old debt.” When is my prediction the state will run out of $? Early 2013.
The Stig June 25, 2012 at 07:10 PM
The governor and legislature should be be ashamed of themselves. This budget is a train wreck. The anticipated revenue figures that the governor proposed, and the legislature has accepted, are a joke. The idea that we are going to borrow even more money for the transportation "trust" fund, without voter approval, is a continuing disaster. And the proposed tax cuts by both sides are idiotic, based on the fanciful idea that NJ's economic growth is going to be two to three times greater than the US's. The governor thinks this is going make him look great with conservatives nationally. The Dems think they'll just pass the governor's budget "in principle," and when things fall apart just blame him. Both are Dead Wrong.


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