Having read the plan put forth by Governor Corzine, one has to wonder where he has been since he took office two years ago regarding fiscal responsibility.
While former Governor McGreevy did his best to increase the budget and add to the problems of the citizens of New Jersey; the current Governor has done much of the same.
In reviewing his budget figures over the two year period since taking office the Governor has increased spending by $5 billion an 18% increase. No small amount. Last year, he continued along with funding school construction increasing the state budge by 7% and at the same time giving double-digit raises to judges and prosecutors thereby increasing their pensions dramatically.
In his speech the Governor stated he was fiscally responsible while on the other hand elected officials were not, he cited contract givebacks he negotiated with state employees last year. For the record this amounts to .001 percent of the state budget. It is time for the Governor and the entire Legislature to begin a pattern of “withdrawal” and come into the real world.
During his speech he failed to acknowledge the recommendations put forth by the special-legislative committees last year. His budget for the coming year calls for a small 1.5 % reduction when compared to the 18% increase he approved during his first two years; you can see the savings proposed amount to nothing. A lot of talk yes, but no solution to the real problem.
When will the Governor and the Legislature wake up and realize that we are no longer bleeding we are hemorrhaging and that requires drastic action or the patient will die.
New Jersey ranks in the top ten with regard to number of employees and budgets. What is needed is a complete reform of the pension system—doing away with double dipping, a reduction in the number of political appointments at all levels of government—state, county and local and at the same time a major reduction in force.
The Governor and the Legislature continue to dance around the issue; until they realize the only answer to beginning to balance the budget is to address the real problem—too many public employees collecting salaries, fringe benefits and pensions the ordinary citizen and taxpayer can no longer afford.
Wake up Governor, the time is now or we surely will go into bankruptcy.
Governor, you should increase tolls a nominal amount. These funds should stay with the various agencies to maintain their roads. You should increase the gasoline tax and dedicate those funds to infrastructure projects for all the other road systems. You should no longer take funds from the authorities to solve other problems. The authorities should be self sufficient.
As stated previously, all pensions should be placed on the table and the legislature should bring the pension system into the 21st century. Retirement ages should be reconsidered along with programs such the 401K type. If corporations can layoff tens of thousands of employees and adjust benefits and pensions so to can the state if drastic actions are necessary.
In my opinion the time for action is now.
Louis C. Ripa, J.D., B.S.C.E
Ocean City, NJ