NJ is Closed? Well, Sort Of

Today Governor Corzine was forced to sign an Executive Order which shuts down non-essential government services. The New Jersey Constitution requires that a balanced budget be in place before start of the fiscal year. When no agreement was reached by July 1st, the governor bit the bullet and closed up shop. The shut down includes the furlough of about 45,000 employees in “non-essential” departments and will also affect casinos which are state regulated. The casino industry is challenging the shut down in court.

Governor Corzine, in a statement, assured the people of New Jersey that essential services will not be part of the shut down:

First and foremost, let me assure residents of our great state that essential services will be provided for the duration of this emergency. We have been working on contingencies and we are prepared. The emergency powers of the Disaster Control Act convey to the Governor the authority to do just that. That includes personnel and facilities involved in providing for the health, safety, and welfare of our people, as well as for the protection of property. Agencies like the State Police, the Division of Youth and Family Services, the Department of Corrections, and substantial parts of the Department of Human Services will see only a very limited impact.

He expressed his dissatisfaction with the necessary move:

It gives me no joy, no satisfaction, no sense of empowerment to do what I am forced to do today. And there will be people who do not receive the attention that they rightfully deserve from our state government. I don’t like it. Others don’t. And we will do everything we can to bring this to a short conclusion. I am absolutely committed to signing a budget that is fair, a budget that is honest, and a budget that restores stability and integrity to New Jersey’s finances.

I do not know a thing about New Jersey’s government or politics, but what if the residents of that state decide that they no longer need those “non-essential” services? Maybe, just maybe, that state could have as their reality truly limited government.

  1. The only thing though is that the government there (or really anywhere) is not trying to reduce government spending in any realistic way. The article leads me to believe that they are really only trying to avoid popular backlash from tax increases (like everywhere else) and the yahoo article also says that:

    “The state Constitution requires a balanced budget by July 1, but the deadline has been missed four times in five years. Nothing happened when deadlines were missed before, but the state never went past the morning of July 2 without an adopted budget.”

    It really doesn’t sound promising at all.

  2. As government gets bigger and more expensive, the possibility of government closing down becomes more common.
    In 1996, there was a period when President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich could not agree on a federal budget, and the LA Times actually warned that the federal government might shut down.

    I was running for Congress at the time, so I pointed out at an AARP forum that people dependent on government checks should be most worried about a government shutdown, and should support cutting back government enough that this would not be a threat. The argument is even more valid now.

  3. This is not the first time a Democratic Gov. of NJ has fought a Dem. controlled legislature. Brendan Byrne did it over state income tax, and lost, to powerful Senators from South Jersey. I feel sure Corzine is well aware of that piece of history, and that one of the reasons Corzine is playing hardball is to avoid being skunked by the Legislature as Byrne was. That’s a problem for state employees and for the state’s citizens; the Gov. can play hardball, but some members of the Legislature are also very experienced at playing hardball. That could result in a deadlock and much agony, but I doubt that it will. Corzine is determined, and being Gov. gives him a lot of power, but power comes more from one’s political clout than from one’s official position, and I’d guess that as in Brendan Byrne’s day, Corzine will find that the Legislature has political roots that can exert unbearable pressure on him. But what do I know? I knew Brendan Byrne slightly; I’ve never met Corzine.

  4. Firstly, one of the agencies being shut down is the Department of Motor Vehicles and its hard to live without it. Secondly, in response to one of the comments, this idea to raise the sales tax isn’t the only thing in the budget. Corzine is trying to cut spending in many places, including a reduction of funds for higher education. But he is also increasing the budget from where it was a year ago. So the students get screwed, along with the rest of the state.

  5. Jason,
    Thanks for your comment. You seem to know more than I about what’s going on in NJ. I live in TX and we have our own problems here. I have to ask, though, why couldn’t one live without the DMV? And how exactly are students getting screwed?

  6. As a NJ state university employee, the students get screwed because lower funding from the state means we have to make up shortfall by raising tuition or cutting services. Usually it’s the former.

    Corzine’s not really doing anything to cut spending at all, he’s just grandstanding to make it look like he cares. If he hadn’t thrown a budget out there that made it sounds like he’s talking from both sides of his face, this wouldn’t be an issue. Instead, he says that we have to tighten our belts then goes and passes a larger budget than that of the year before.

    Jersey politics as usual.

  7. I go to Rutgers, and I can think of quite a few useless bureaucrats and employees I could certainly live without. They oughta cut the U. president’s 6-figure sallary, too. I’m tired of his office sending me emails about how I should rally in Trenton so they don’t cut the bureucrats’ and patronage employees’ sallaries…oops I mean so those mean, money-grubbing bastards who don’t care about education won’t make life harder for us.

    Fuck em. I hope the whole corrupt state government falls. THAT would be the best Independence Day present since 1776! All its “services” would be better provided by a free market instead of the rigged political game it all is now.

  8. Yes, hopefully this will get people wondering if some of the services provided by a government aren’t “essential”, why are they necessary in the first place?

  9. thank you, jnice!!! I, too, like that the gov. used essential/non-essential so easily. Maybe we are not the only ones to pick up on it. Maybe NJ residents will pick up on the fact that the governor essentially said that only safety and limited welfare of the people were essential. Maybe the first free state will be one with a different “New” prefix.

  10. Everything that government does in any state local or federal municipality has only two agendas. “Appear to provide the illusion of security” and good intention for the common people, and secondly support those that financially support them (big business). The only people this is affecting is the low income and working class. In the end all the money makers will continue to operate (I.E. casinos and large businesss). However the guy that feeds his family by building state roads won’t be able to make his mortgage payment.
    It’s just another example of how the government plays to big business and takes advantage of the common folk all the while making it look like they are trying to do “the responsible thing”.

  11. The people of NJ are always the ones hurt by the Big Government, high taxes of the democratically controlled blue state. We have some of the highest taxes in the nation already and Dem. Corzine proposes increasing sales, water, gas and cigerette taxes which are already the highest in the nation. The biggest kick will be that the democratically controlled legislator will simply approve and appropriations bill and Corzine will sign it that WILL PAY all the “non-essential” workers during the shutdown period. This will be a week off WITH PAY for them that will be tacked onto the other generous benifits that they already enjoy. Those not on the Gov’t payroll like the construction worker or the casino worker get screwed WITHOUT PAY during the shutdown and then will be paying higher taxes when it is over. A Blue state does not know how to cut spending…the only solution.