NJ budget process showed a complete lack of governance, transparency

So was titled an opinion piece in app.com by Michele Siekerka, CEO and president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, but was this year really that much worse of a budget season? Whose voices were silenced?

  • Elected officials who get told what to do by party bosses?
  • Lobbyists seeking to distort priorities to favor their well-heeled clients?
  • Policy experts who bluff their way into lucrative jobs through accommodating their advice to the situation?

About ten years ago, when I was attending town council meetings with some regularity, an older woman stepped up to the microphone at comment time in Cranford and she went on for about 5 minutes about escalating property taxes driving her out of town.

She was barely tolerated. Not having anything specific to ask for (or provide them) nobody on the dais knew how to deal with her.


In case a subscription is needed to see the full app.com piece, here it is:

Budget season at the Statehouse is infamous for behind-the-scenes negotiations, last-minute deals, and the inevitable “Christmas tree” spending items added to the final bill to secure “yes” votes from lawmakers seeking funds for special projects in their districts. 

This year, however, the lack of transparency and public input in the FY 2021 budget process was astounding – even by New Jersey’s standards. 

A deal was struck by the Murphy administration and legislative leaders on a nine-month $32.7 billion plan that raised two major taxes, increased spending by $1.7 billion and authorized $4.5 billion in unnecessary borrowing. And it was made public prior to any discussion with the legislative caucuses or public hearings and without any budget details being shared.  

In fact, many leaders of state departments were never called to testify, not even by video conference. The state Senate opted to discontinue virtual testimony by the public, leaving no choice to weigh in except in person, during a pandemic.

Despite the lack of some basic budget documents that are ordinarily available to explain the intricacies of the budget, both committees pushed through the spending plan and accompanying tax increases, regardless. Two days later, the full Legislature voted to approve the budget, without the details appearing in the final bill form until the night before the committee vote.

Good governance? I think not. 

Good governance would have dictated a transparent process where the general electorate could be heard and understand why needless borrowing, excessive spending and completely avoidable tax increases enacted under the guise of tax relief are a good thing for New Jersey’s economy – especially in a COVID world.

A more transparent budget process would have helped stop the tax increases and borrowing that only exacerbates New Jersey’s pre-COVID challenges of regional competitiveness and affordability.

How and why? 

Because our policymakers would have had to share the real numbers and data they were relying on to make their decisions. 

They would have had to explain why spending priorities like education and safety net programs were being crowded out of the general fund by increased spending items like:

•    Doubling our surplus for a rainy day (aren’t we in a monsoon, right now?)

•    Increased pension payments over the 2020 levels (which were already a record high payment) and “gifts” to local legislative districts for pet projects. 

Our policymakers would also have had to explain why they lacked the political will to take on the needed bipartisan recommendations in the Path to Progress report, which so many agree will bring the real comprehensive reform that New Jersey so desperately needs.  

The result of this poor budget process: New taxes for one of the most taxed states in the nation and increased borrowing for a state with the honor of being the most indebted in the nation. 

Regarding borrowing, no one would ever want to omit this option if we truly needed to fill a COVID-related revenue shortfall and to fund COVID-related expenses. In fact, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted the Governor the ability to do just that without voter approval. 

But could the Supreme Court have ever imagined that the borrowing authority they bestowed would be taken advantage of in the way our FY 2021 budget was crafted and now will be spent? I think not.

NJBIA fought hard against this budget at every turn, bringing data and comprehensive ideas for how we could have avoided such a train wreck of a final budget. Why? Because those who call New Jersey home deserve so much better. 

So now, a call to action for our elected officials: With this awful budget in the books, let’s get to work right now on the policies and reforms we need to make New Jersey stronger on the other side of COVID. We deserve it. 

15 responses to this post.

  1. Can’t find the link, years ago, on a televised roundtable, California governors…


    EACH agreed that they could have governed better and more efficiently if they had more individual control and fewer constraints.


  2. Off topic?

    “President Donald Trump’s campaign is ramping up the pace of the President’s travel, preparing to hold three rallies a day next week.”
    (Time.com, Oct. 16, 2020)

    Who pays?

    “Turns out things like food, lodging, and the price of a commercial ticket, are on the President: for those costs, his party or the campaign is responsible for reimbursing the government.”

    “Those campaign-related expenses must be reported and filed with the FEC.”


    “But there are some perks of the job that he can’t control; the President must travel on air Force One, which includes the Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Secret Service Protection.

    “Federal laws mandate Secret Service protection and other forms of assistance for all of their travel, including political travel,” Ingram said. “The costs of these services are assumed by the various government agencies providing them.”

    So, the RNC pays for the KFC, and taxpayers pay for everything else?


  3. Posted by Tough Love on October 16, 2020 at 9:13 pm


    “Former White House chief of staff tells friends that Trump ‘is the most flawed person’ he’s ever met”

    Quoting from that article:

    “Former White House chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, has told friends that President Donald Trump “is the most flawed person” he’s ever known.

    “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life,” the retired Marine general has told friends, CNN has learned.

    The reporting comes from a new CNN special scheduled to air Sunday night, “The Insiders: A Warning from Former Trump Officials,” in which former senior administration officials — including former national security adviser John Bolton, former Health and Human Services scientist Rick Bright and former Department of Homeland Security general counsel John Mitnick — explain why they think the President is unfit for office.
    Kelly’s sentiments about the President’s transactional nature and dishonesty have been shared by other former members of the Trump administration who also appear in the special. ”



    • Posted by Rex the Wonder Dog! 🐶🐶🐶🦴🦴🦴 on October 17, 2020 at 1:08 am


      “Trump Destroys TL and Sleepy China Joe”

      Quoting from that video:

      “Never come down, I don’t care if I never come down”


    • Posted by geo8rge on October 17, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      Ok,so is there anything to say about Super Joe Biden? Why exactly should I vote for him?


      • Posted by Tough Love on October 17, 2020 at 4:50 pm

        Because Trump in insane


        • Posted by Rex the Wonder Dog! 🐶🐶🐶🦴🦴🦴 on October 18, 2020 at 1:04 am

          Go crawl back in your hole Commie TL 🙂


          • No TL. Commie is the Antifa scum that fights and beats people for protesting Twitter CENSORING the NY post to protect Biden.
            That is actually how Fascism starts.
            Commie is the 44 school districts in SF looking to change names of schools like Washington and Lincoln. Roosevelt etc.
            How do you change a country? Take away their history!!!
            Biden, more like his supporters, will be awful for this country. Way worse than trump. By Jan 1, your 401k (which he wants to change the rules for) will be down 30%!!! You, Karen, will only have slightly (but not really) more rights than me. Your privelage will be checked and your voice will be muted. You thought the cops at your local council meeting were bad? Just wait.

  4. Posted by Tough Love on October 17, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    VERY interesting (but LONG) article written by Trump’s tax attorney………..




    • Posted by Tough Love on October 17, 2020 at 3:47 pm

      I found THIS part very telling…….

      “Other prominent law firms appear to have learned from the Morgan Lewis experience. In June 2017, Michael Isikoff reported that when Trump sought to bolster his legal team, four of the nation’s leading firms refused:

      “The concerns were, ‘The guy won’t pay and he won’t listen,’ said one lawyer close to the White House who is familiar with some of the discussions between the firms and the administration, as well as deliberations within the firms themselves.””


    • Posted by Rex the Wonder Dog! 🐶🐶🐶🦴🦴🦴 on October 18, 2020 at 1:08 am

      Jezzz, the BIGGEST Anti-Trump site of all-time. Stick a fork in TL her krazee ass is done.


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