The New Jersey comeback: reality or rhetoric?

Deltek Analyst Stephen Moss reports.

Governor Chris Christie’s FY 2013 Budget Proposal’s optimistic, albeit tempered slogan, “continuing the New Jersey comeback,” shines light on future priorities of the third-year Republican governor. The use of such lofty phrases by politicians can seem trite or lacking in veracity; however, through Deltek’s in-depth budget analysis, it’s become clear that in terms of all-funds spending, this assertion is largely correct.
In March 2010, shortly after his election, Christie stood in the well of the New Jersey Assembly and declared that “time has run out” on the state’s extravagant spending habits. Christie stated, “The bill has come due,” and the tab was staggering. New Jersey faced an $11 billion budget deficit for FY 2011, with $121 billion in unfunded health benefits and pension liability. Meanwhile, state spending increased by 56 percent from 2001, and taxes at all levels had ballooned to the highest rates in the nation. The remedy for what Christie termed “a lack of discipline” was to implement dramatic cuts to the state budget; the rollbacks were so steep that detractors called them draconian. General-fund spending in FY 2011 decreased; however, there was an actual increase in all-funds spending from the previous fiscal year. Nevertheless, the rhetoric was cast, and the narrative in place for a dramatic course change and an equally impressive recovery.
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