In his address to a joint session of the legislature today Governor Chris Christie threw down the gauntlet. He said in no uncertain terms, the state government is broke, and demanded that everyone in the chamber work with him to put state government on a path to fiscal solvency.
While Democrats who were caught by NJN’s cameras applauded, their heart is not in to reducing the size of state government based on their statements after the governor’s address.
When Jon Corzine addressed the legislature about the state budget four years ago, he too said the state government was broke.
So in four years, the legislature “fiddled” while unemployment skyrocketed, the economy tanked and more individuals fled New Jersey to more hospitable states. In short, the majority in the legislature, i.e., Democrats, like good sheep followed the Corzine administration over the cliff into the financial black hole that the state finds itself in. Instead of applying the right medicine, restructuring—downsizing–state government to correct the fiscal imbalances in the state, Democrats are now whining that Governor Christie is governing like an autocrat.
Well, if Democrats had a clue about how the economy works, they would realize that state revenues are very sensitive during the course of the business cycle. When the economy started to turn down more than two years ago, that should have set off alarm bells in the governor’s office and in the legislature. Instead, they collectively buried their heads in the sand and hoped the economy would turn around quickly.
The depth of the housing bust should have prompted legislators to ask questions about the rosy revenue forecasts they used to put together this year’s budget. While the state’s economy is in the doldrums and will not pick up appreciably to allow the state to spend anywhere near it is spending now, next year’s budget could be begin the process of restructuring state government that is long overdue.
Better late than never.
In his address Governor Christie made the following remarks:
“And make no mistake: our priorities are to reduce and reform New Jersey’s habit of excessive government spending, to reduce taxes, to encourage job creation, to shrink our bloated government, and to fund our responsibilities on a pay-as-you-go basis and not leave them for future generations. In short, to make New Jersey a home for growth instead of a fiscal basket case.
“Let us live within the means the people are already providing us and not take more of their hard-earned wages and savings from their pockets.”
In his first inaugural address Thomas Jefferson said: “… a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government….”
Governor Christie may turn out to be New Jersey’s Thomas Jefferson. Let’s hope so for the people of New Jersey and future generations.