From the Philly Inquirer:
Gov. Corzine, who is running for reelection this year, tried to season his “state of the state” address with optimism yesterday. But voters dealing with their own financial problems don’t need the bad news sugar-coated.
For three years, Corzine has been trying to restore fiscal discipline in Trenton. The nationwide recession is making that difficult job even tougher, forcing Corzine to slash the state’s current budget of $32.9 billion by $1.4 billion – or 4.2 percent. More cuts may be needed before the fiscal year ends July 1.
Instead of campaigning on an agenda of popular new programs, therefore, Corzine’s job is essentially to keep New Jersey afloat for 12 more months. When 48,000 New Jersey residents received foreclosure notices last year, it’s best to focus on the future.
“Our best days lie ahead,” Corzine said. It’s another way of saying, as he did moments later in the speech, “We’ve had to make many ugly choices.”
His budget proposals for the coming fiscal year were a hodgepodge from across the political spectrum, all aimed at getting the economy back on track.
There have been bright spots. Among them – education funding has increased, and Corzine has made important strides in ethics legislation.
The full details of Corzine’s budget plans in the coming fiscal year won’t be unveiled until March. But it’s clear in a budgetary sense that this year in Trenton will be about surviving rather than thriving. Corzine need not try to blur that reality just because it’s an election year.