New Jersey Governor-elect Chris Christie fired a warning shot across the bow of state government this week. The message is refreshing and offers a glimmer of hope that the sinking ship that is New Jersey may be rescued after all.
The state’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, on behalf of Christie’s transition team, sent out a three page memo via email to all state department heads. It warned of three upcoming scenarios: a cut to their operating budgets of either 15%, 20%, or 25% in the upcoming new year.
In a state with an anticipated $8 billion budget shortfall, those cuts in real dollars equal $3.8 billion, $5.1 billion, or $6.4 billion. And departments can’t achieve their cuts by shifting payments on outstanding debt. It has to be tangible cuts to services and labor force. All this means no magic tricks, no slight of hand. Also, cost-of-living (COL) increases will not be automatic.
Department heads have until January 6th to make their initial recommendations for budget cuts. Meanwhile, groups who receive state funding are sweating out the results. Everyone is going to lose something. But it has to be that way.
Congratulations to Governor-elect Christie for not keeping the status quo. To use a quote made famous nearly 60 years ago, “Give ‘em hell, Harry!”
- Mountain Man