Buono Calls For Economic Contingency Plans

TRENTON – Senator Barbara Buono, Chair of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, today said State officials should prepare budget contingency plans now to deal with the “inevitable downward revenue spiral” caused by the Wall Street credit crisis.

“Like families trying to pay monthly bills, we have to stay within our means,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “To avoid panic later, we need to plan now.”

Senator Buono said she would urge Governor Corzine to direct department heads in State government to prepare a range of potential spending cuts depending on the severity of whatever revenue shortfall unfolds.

“Hopefully, we won’t have to make cuts in the current budget, but we should be prepared for a worst-case scenario,” Senator Buono said. “Regardless of the success of the Wall Street bailout, its impact on New Jersey, both in terms of financial services workers and the industry itself, will be significant.”

Meanwhile, Senator Buono said the Senate budget panel’s hearing on the economy has been rescheduled from Oct. 6th to Oct. 20th to better assess the fallout from what she described as “the most significant financial crisis since the Depression.” A list of invitees will be released next week, she said.

“We’ll be looking for substantive recommendations to deal with a bleak economic outlook, a depressed housing market and shattered consumer confidence that could be crushing to the holiday season,” Senator Buono said. “The hearing is intended to focus on the extent of the fallout and its impact on New Jersey. It will provide committee members with a more thorough understanding of the consequences of the financial market crisis so recommendations can be made to the Governor to ensure the budget remains balanced going forward in the fiscal year.”

The delay in the hearing will help State officials evaluate the initial response to whatever plan is approved in Washington over the next few days, Senator Buono said.

“It would be ludicrous to posture solutions from a State panel to an international financial crisis, but we shouldn’t sit idly by and ignore the reality that we can control spending and make substantial adjustments at the State level,” she said.

“As this crisis on Wall Street plays itself out, my primary concern is for the people on Main Street,” Senator Buono said.