Hundreds of millions of dollars in Christmas Tree-political projects, reckless deficit spending, and a jaw-dropping lack of transparency undermined the now-enacted $54 billion FY2024 State Budget that taxpayers will pay a steep price for immediately in the future.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in Christmas Tree-political projects, reckless deficit spending, and a jaw-dropping lack of transparency undermined the $54 billion State Budget that taxpayers will pay a steep price for in the future. (Pixabay)
Egregious spending—not tax relief—superseded every aspect of the budget. Incredibly, the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees were compelled to vote on the State Budget bill without even being given a copy of the bill. Waiting to the last minute to make $100 million changes to the budget was not so much a strategy but a desperate ploy to buy off votes with taxpayer dollars. This occurred even when it couldn’t be more obvious that New Jersey’s affordability crisis remains the dominant issue, more so by across-the-board costs increases resulting from inflation.
Calling this a flawed process just doesn’t do it justice. Unconscionable is a far more accurate description. Aided by the Governor’s Office, the Legislature’s powerbrokers managed to refrain from giving back taxpayers more of their money to improve their quality of life, which includes being able to pay their bills, and chose instead to expand government spending.
Consider: the recently adopted FY2024 State Budget increases spending by $3.7 billion, or 7%, to $54.3 billion from $50.6 billion. For perspective, that is a 57%, $19.7 billion, increase since Governor Christie’s last state budget.
Defenders of the new State Budget will argue about increased funding for programs and services. Our Delegation supports a fiscally disciplined approach in drafting the state budget to ensure sufficient funding is dedicated to priority programs and services which many of our constituents utilize and see a return on their tax dollars taken by government.
For all its failures, most glaring is the more than $1.3 billion that was added into the State Budget without explanation since Governor Murphy’s state budget address. For those watching closely, we knew this spending accounted for Christmas tree items—special projects serving as political paybacks which not only undermine the integrity of the budget process but also outrage taxpayers struggling to make ends meet.
Reaching a new low even by Trenton’s standards, the State Budget set a new record for budget deficits—a $2.7 billion deficit which is $1 billion more than the worst of the Corzine years. Our Delegation called out our colleagues on this reckless and alarming point, but it became quickly evident that the deals had already been cut and the taxpayers had already been sold out.
As evidenced by these and other indefensible failures of basic fiscal management, our Delegation voted NO on the State Budget without hesitation in representing the interests of our constituents.