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McGreevey Meets With Governor Byrne and State Budget Experts

 
 

Byrne, Goldman and Keevey share Governor's concerns about the irresponsibility of the past administrations

(TRENTON)-Governor James E. McGreevey met with former Governor Brendan Byrne, former State Treasurer Cliff Goldman and former Office of Management and Budget Director Richard Keevey to solicit their input on the state's $2.9 billion revenue shortfall.

"Today, I had the pleasure of meeting with three individuals who know the budget and know just how difficult it will be to put this budget in balance," said McGreevey. "We discussed the clear, present and extremely serious problem we are facing-a problem that was neither unexpected nor unavoidable."

Last week, McGreevey suggested that the state's current revenue shortfall was "neither unexpected nor unavoidable" as he revealed a series of documents indicating that the previous administrations knowingly ignored a series of warnings from independent experts showing that revenue projections for FY2002 were overly optimistic.

"The problems we face today are the result of runaway spending, out-of-control borrowing, and a failure to act in the face of clear fiscal warnings," said McGreevey. "These three leaders are working with us to assess where we are and to end the irresponsible policies of the past-policies that sacrificed our long-term stability for short term gains."

Specifically, former Governor Byrne pointed to the reckless borrowing and spending of the past eight years as examples of the irresponsible governing that has left the state with the largest deficit in the nation.

"As Governor, you learn very quickly that you can't do all things for all people," said Byrne. "That's not something the administrations of the past eight years learned very well. The prior administration wanted to cut taxes and spend more. Unfortunately, much of the new spending was phased in at the same time that revenues were being phased out. That's a recipe for disaster."

Former State Treasurer Goldman commented on how the prior administration implemented a new tax on corporate limited partnerships without a full understanding of how much money it would provide and how officials deliberately ignored projections last May by the non-partisan budget experts in the Office of Legislative Services showing a $1.5 billion revenue shortfall-a shortfall that is now up to $2.3 billion due to their continued negligence.

"OLS was saying the money was not there," said Goldman. "Unfortunately, the revised revenue projections did not deter the administration-right up to the end-from continuing to spend at record levels," said Goldman.

As former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Keevey discussed how the budget passed last June understated the spending needs of the state by $500 million for programs such as FamilyCare, PAAD and NJ Saver. He also discussed how the FY2002 budget includes $500 million in one-time, non-recurring revenues to pay for recurring programs.

"That's almost a $1 billion problem. If one thing was made clear to me from my time directing the Office of Management and Budget, it's this: You simply can't spend money you don't have," said Keevey. "In this regard, the previous administration has left the state in quite a bind."

Since taking the Oath of Office, McGreevey has taken numerous actions to address the state's fiscal situation. He instructed cabinet members to cut operational costs in their departments and agencies by five percent and to freeze all discretionary spending. He also met with higher education leaders and informed them that they would need to reduce their budgets by five percent as well.

Additionally, McGreevey established the BEST (Budget Efficiency Savings Team) Commission, which was charged with identifying waste and mismanagement throughout state government, finding efficiencies to maximize services and minimize costs and recommending solutions.

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