Sunday, May 28, 2006

Remeber them

On this lovely Memorial Day weekend, please take time to thank a veteran. More importantly, remember to honor those who can no longer receive our thanks in person. They are immortalized in the third verse of the song, America:

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife.
Who more than self the country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

Tags: Memorial Day

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Just realized it's been over a week since I posted anything. I'm still here, just busy with Real Life™ stuff. Working on a couple of things, hopefully will get them up this week.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Who Knew? School Administrators Come Out Against Cuts

Corzine Watch reports that, surprisingly, school administrators don't want their budgets cut. In fact, the administrators of our institutions of higher education feel so strongly about it, they've almost taken to threatening the legislature in testimony:

The administrators also argued that the financial hardships would be far worse than the $169 million in cuts, because the state has asked schools to take on an additional $121.8 million in new costs. The heavy financial burden the state is putting on the schools could have a long-term effect. Less students would be able to afford state schooling, which could force students out of state.
The state of New Jersey spends boatloads of money on its colleges. Take Rutgers, for example. In 2006, net subsidies through the Department of State budget totaled almost $331 million; 2007 net subsidies will be just short of $275 million (click to enlarge):

What's staggering to me is the gross amount of state support to Rutgers through Grants-in-Aid -- nearly $1.6 billion. The cut in state aid, shown in this budget line, is less than $31 million, or 1.9% of the total grant. This will hardly bankrupt an institution that has been in existence since 1766.

You'll notice from the table that one other line is significantly different between 2006 and 2007: Receipts from Tuition Increase. In 2005 and 2006, Rutgers had extra income of $26 and $28 million, respectively, from higher tuition rates.

The table below, again taken from the Department of State budget, shows the cost of attendance at Rutgers increased by 3.6% in 2005, and by 5.5% in 2006. In each of those years, tuition for both in-state and out-of-state undergrads increased by 8% (click to enlarge).

This year's budget only anticipates $860,000 from higher tuitions, and this is a proper position for the governor to take. Like the state, Rutgers (and the other institutions of higher education) must learn to manage expenditures within expected revenues. The model of the past, in which revenues are managed to cover desired expenses, has got to go. Students, as the administrators have correctly recognized, can no longer afford annual 8% increases in tuition. Neither can the state.

Tags: New Jersey, Taxes, Budget, Education

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Blogs on a Plane


The Fifth Column presents Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers #51: Blogs on a Plane, and does a damn fine job of it. A very nice flying experience...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Post-Carnival Slump

Why is it, after hosting a Carnival I fall into a period with no motivation to write? I know there are lots of happenings in the world of New Jersey taxes and budgeting, and that they deserve comment. For some reason, I just can't summon the mental energy to do it properly this week.

Is it really the Carnival?

Tags: Carnival

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Budget Nitpick

One thing that really bothers me about this budget -- I find that I can't trust any of the numbers found therein. Let me share one example:

The compensation of members of the Legislature is $49,000 per year (C52:10A--1). The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the General Assembly, by virtue of their offices, receive an additional allowance equal to one--third of their compensation.

This should be a pretty straightforward piece of the budget, as the law spells out exactly what the budget should be. If you do the quick math, you find that 40 and one third times $49,000 is $1,976,333.33. The budget plans to spend $1,990,000 (see page D-3), or nearly $14,000 more than the law allows.

Fourteen thousand dollars may not sound like a lot, but lets take a hypothetical extension of this budgeting and see where it leads. $13,667 (the actual overrun) out of $1.99 million is 0.69%. The total spending plan for the entire state is $30.9 billion. If 0.69% of the $30.9 billion total is in excess of the requirements (like the Senators' salary budget), than that would work out to $211.75 million dollars of, as Bob calls it, slippage.

Can we afford to lose more than $211 million in slippage?

Tags: Jersey, Taxes