Now, the Record reports that legislators have finally caught on to this chicanery. Who the hell works in the legislative offices in Trenton that they don't understand simple math and how the budget process works?
Governor Corzine's new budget is listed at $29.8 billion, but it spends $32 billion.It was all about politics, and this is something I noted weeks ago. How come it took the media that long to see what was plainly obvious just looking at the actual proposed budget? Corzine's math never added up, and he hid increased expenditures by using the federal funds to cover them.
Confused? So are a bunch of legislators who want to know how Corzine's new spending plan can be officially set at $29.8 billion even though the budget clearly lists another $2.2 billion in federal stimulus money that will be spent by the state during the upcoming fiscal year.
David Rosen, budget and finance officer for the non-partisan state Office of Legislative Services, tried to explain the difference to lawmakers during a politically charged legislative hearing last week by saying Corzine's number can be interpreted another way.
"If you wanted to add the $2.2 billion onto the $29.8 billion and say we're really spending $32 billion, I couldn't quarrel with that," Rosen told Republican lawmakers who are questioning the Democratic governor's accounting. "It does have the effect of making our spending look smaller than it effectively is."
To average taxpayers, the total spending amount in the new state budget means little. A specific program may get caught in the balance, but the essence of what state government does is the same.
School districts will still receive state aid, hospitals will continue to treat anyone who walks though the doors and New Jersey State Police cars will keep patrolling the state's highways.
But the lower budget number has political value for Corzine, who is up for reelection this year along with the full state Assembly amid the worst economic conditions in recent decades.
Instead of making real and substantial cuts in the state budget, he's buried the spending increases among the one-shot federal financial stimulus package aid, which actually is against New Jersey law and among the most fiscally irresponsible things that the state can do.