With dismal revenue predictions for the state now capturing the headlines, the focus appears to be shifting to the unpopular subject of budget cuts. Republicans legislators should be happy. They claim they have been calling for cuts for far too long and the press has been unwilling to yield real estate to the issue. In fact, Republican staffers have developed a cut list – although some of the slices lack specific line-by-line cost savings.
Others are not impressed by the effort and charge the list is NIMBYish — sparing Republican constituents at the expense of others.
All the more reason to return to the basics: for every cut the press reports about, both the effects and the alternatives should be part of the story.
Let’s take the State Police cuts to local towns – or should I say the State Police tab to be sent to about 100 rural communities who are patrolled by troopers. The Governor wants to charge those towns some $20million next fiscal year for its state policing services.
Sound fair? What’s the financial impact to those communities who will now be charged for services, at the same time the Guv is slashing aid to small towns? Credit goes to Paul Mulshine at the Star Ledger for shedding some light on the question in his recent column: “To small towns, the State Police are real troopers”.
But that’s not the full story. In the category of Questions We’d Like to Ask, here’s a few more:
· How much revenue is deposited into the state treasury by trooper-issued summons, particularly in those small communities?
· Do the monies these towns receive to adjudicate traffic hearings and other offenses charged by NJSP cover the local administrative court costs?
· And how are these rural state police services calculated – the former Administration pegged the expenditures at $70 million in 2002 as compared to today’s estimated $20.5 million?
Tomorrow: Some answers to our questions.