By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
There’s a lot that can (and will) be said about today’s $33.8 billion budget proposal – a 3.1% increase over last year – but for now, all I can offer is a big ‘ole shrug. I’ve got nothing. Substantively and politically, I’ve got no idea what our Governor is aiming at here. None.
We’ll wait to hear more about the “roadmap” too to combat our confusion.
I’m not alone. “Over the past six years, Americans for Prosperity has warned that the State has continued to spend beyond its means,” opined our friend, AFP-NJ state director Daryn Iwicki. “State budget growth has consistently outpaced state GDP and the 2% cap municipalities are held to; a path which is unsustainable. Now, the day of reckoning is fast approaching and the pain will be worse to due Trenton’s failure to deal with reality over the past five years.”
While applauding a dearth of major tax increases as favored by Democrats, Daryn also pointed out how deep budget cuts are an inescapable facet of any ultimate, real solution to the state’s budget crisis.
“Regardless of how the courts rule, the simple fact is the money to meet New Jersey’s pension and benefit obligations is not there,” he continued. “There is no way the State will be able to meet escalating pension payments which are scheduled to balloon to $4.8 billion in FY 2018—twice that of FY 2015’s $2.25 billion payment—let alone overcome $135 billion in pension and health benefit liabilities without a bold, sweeping overhaul of the system which drastically cuts costs. This is no longer just an option; it’s an imperative.”
Again, why the Governor didn’t think proposing big, sweeping cuts was a good idea? Not just out of fiscal necessity (see above), but also to frame the 2015 elections AND help create a winning contrast for himself with, for example, Scott Walker? I’m clueless.