Enlighten New Jersey spends a little blog real estate to remind us that "There Are No Cuts In Governor Corzine's Budget."
Governor Jon Corzine and his supporters claim his proposed $30.9 state budget for 2007 is a fair and reasonable plan while acknowledging spending will climb 9.2% over last year’s budget of $28.3 billion. No matter how you try to spin it, Corzine’s budget will increase state spending by $2.6 billion.Conveniently, the Governor's Budget in Brief provides a detailed list of different budget line items that have either increased or decreased. Enlighten pointed out a few highlights, but some summary data would also be useful to emphasize the magnitude of the problem.
Corzine has explained $1.63 billion of the increase with his proposed $1.1 billion payment to the state worker pension fund and his request for a $530 million increase in property tax rebates. So where is the remaining billion dollars in additional spending going? It’s being spent on the Governor’s priorities.
State Operations - $268,887,000 increase
- 16 line items increased, totaling $690,608,000
- 39 line items decreased, totaling $421,731,000
Eighteen, for $108 million, come from "efficiencies" in each of the departments. There is no detail, as far as I can tell, about how the governor plans to make the bureaucracy more efficient. To gain efficiency in a business sense (our governor is a businessman, after all), we either have to produce more government services for the same cost, or produce the same government services for a lower cost. Enlighten points out that the state employs 154,700 people. 80,900 are full-time employees, which means that each full-time employee must produce an extra $1,340 worth of services to achieve $108 million in "efficiencies." At $40 / hour, that's 33.5 hours of extra work for each employee, or the equivalent of of 1,355 man-years of work. Think the unions will stand for that?
Four items worth $95 million aren't really spending decreases, because they reduce fund balances (Prescription Fund, Division of Pensions/Pension Fund, Governor's Contingency Funds, and Contingency Funds). This exactly the kind of budget trick the governor told us he wouldn't use.
Four line items, totalling $28 million, appear to be related to staffing reductions, including the governor's salary. It was so kind of him to sacrifice his $250,000 salary in the face of a $4,500,000,000 hole -- we're 0.0055% of the way there now!
Finally, there's a one-time savings similar to the campaign funding Enlighten pointed out -- we are "saving" $600,000 by not funding the Governor's transition as we did last year.
Grants-in-Aid - $885,514,000 increase
- 36 items increased, totaling $1,708,960,000
- 76 items decreased, totaling $823,446,000
State Aid - $1,007,679,000 increase
- 15 items increased, totaling $1,165,754,000
- 19 items decreased, totaling $158,075,000
The bottom line, again from Enlighten New Jersey's post:
So it goes throughout Corzine's budget – a small cut here and a large increase somewhere else in his budget plan In the end, Governor Corzine has funded his priorities and his priorities are costing the state’s taxpayers an additional $2.6 billion.
Tags: Jersey, Taxes, Budget