This week marks my first 100 days in the General Assembly representing the taxpayers, families and seniors of the 25th Legislative District. I consider it an honor and privilege to serve in the legislature during what has become a truly historic time in state government. I have learned much in such a short period and I look forward to playing an increasingly larger role in helping to achieve the reforms the state needs in order to overcome its fiscal challenges and revitalize our economy.
To accomplish these goals, all levels of government must recognize that they must now live within their means. The days of uncontrolled spending and relying upon new or higher taxes and fees or borrowing are over. The budget proposed on March 16th by Governor Christie calls for shared sacrifices by everyone. Gone are the accounting gimmicks, one shot budget fixes and smoke and mirrors of the past. This budget takes a new direction and is a much different approach than the budgets of recent administrations. We must change the way government operates if we are to provide relief to taxpayers and pull ourselves out of this economic recession.
Part of the shared sacrifices are unfortunate reductions in state aid to municipalities and school districts, which are necessitated by decreases in revenues and years of runaway spending. No one is happy about these cuts and in an effort to minimize the impact of these reductions I have met with school officials, board presidents and mayors in order to look for efficiencies and alternative solutions. These meetings have already produced several suggestions which I am pursuing with the Administration. As a product of the Boonton public school system, I was encouraged by the willingness of the district, along with Denville and Rockaway, to be among the first in the state to agree to a wage freeze and other concessions to help reduce expenses and save jobs.
The desperately needed new direction that is being taken has been met with heated debate over how to balance the state’s finances. While debate is healthy, I am disappointed with the divisive rhetoric that has developed. We must work together in a bi-partisan fashion to solve the nearly $11 billion fiscal budget shortfall that we now face. It is incumbent on those who disagree with the Governor’s proposal to offer constructive alternatives that can be debated on their merits. It is disingenuous to acknowledge New Jersey has a problem, but not want to be part of the solution.
My first 100 days in office have passed by quickly and I have been fortunate to meet many constituents who have diverse backgrounds and ideas as to how we can structurally fix our State government. I will continue to encourage their input and participation in the legislative process. For those who may be interested, I am hosting an Open House on May 2, 2010 from 2pm-4pm at my legislative office located at 1040 Route 10 West in Randolph. I truly appreciate the opportunity to serve the public and my door is always open to listen and help in any way I can.