NJ For Change

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Spending Priorities

Our Governor, Jon Corzine is going around the state making presentations on New Jersey’s finances in advance of his budget proposal to be unveiled later this month.

When Corzine first took office in January he bluntly told one group “the state’s broke”. This must have come as a shock to the former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. Senator because during the campaign he was “invest, grow, prosper”. Invest referred to all of the new spending programs he had in mind if we elected him. I’ll let you figure out who or what was going to being growing and proposing. Anyway, Gov. Corzine has placed those ideas aside and is now softening us up for the bad news.

"Describing the problem is not that hard. We are spending more than we take in," Corzine said. He said "reasonable people" can differ on the size of the gap he must close before July 1, but added, "I can tell you we have a very significant, multibillion-dollar problem that's more like $4billion than $3billion."
Having identified the problem – spending, the solution would seem straight forward – cut spending. That’s what you or I would need to do if we had more money going out than we brought home.

By necessity, I have to prioritize my needs and budget my spending accordingly. Even needs have to be prioritized. In my case, I want a new TV because ours just conked out, but I really needed to purchase a new hot water heater, ours just died. I couldn’t afford to buy both now, the hot water heater became the priority. So, that's what we bought.

A vacation away from home is a desire and that’s just not going to happen this year, unless I win the lottery. I buy one ticket one week, my cousin buys one the next week. That’s about as reckless as I get with my money. Buying a lottery ticket comes under frivolous and it would have to go if my $26 a-year extravagance tipped my budget into the red.

Anyway, there’s a big difference between essentials and nice to haves. The TV fell into the nice to have category. I don’t believe in going into debt, except for a mortgage or a medical emergency. I might consider taking a loan for school tuition or a car, but it would have to be the last resort. Both my cousin and I have spent our lives working from an early age to pay our own way and to stay out of debt.

Unfortunately, the state chose a different course. Everything’s a priority to the folks in Trenton and no one seems capable of telling the difference among essential, nice to have and if money where no object type spending. It kills me to see the state squander people’s hard-earned money. I work hard, handle my finances responsibly and then have to watch government blow our tax money without a second thought. Their attitude is "there's always more where that came from".

So now we will all just have to wait and see what the Governor will come up with to solve the state’s spending problem. I do feel strongly about this, if $28 billion isn’t enough for the essentials, and that includes helping the truly sick and helpless, we’re being scammed. I don't like being scammed.
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