TRENTON – Senator Barbara Buono, Chair of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, urged the Corzine Administration to come before the panel next week bearing “in-depth details’ of its fiscal restructuring and debt reduction proposal.
Her pitch was backed up by Senate President Richard J. Codey and Senate Majority Leader Stephen M. Sweeney.
“If this (proposal) is designed to cure our fiscal ills, we really need to see what’s on every shelf in the medicine cabinet,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “In the initial stops on his public tour, the Governor has been upfront and knowledgeable, but now we’ll need to examine what’s beyond the labels.”
The Senate panel has invited Corzine Administration aides, labor experts, financial consultants and members of the public to testify at the hearing set to begin at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, January 23rd in Room 4 of the State House Annex.
“We set it for the afternoon so regular people with jobs during the day could stop in after work,” said Senate President Codey. “Basically, we’re hoping to get detailed answers on the general concepts that have been rolled out so far. Obviously, the Legislature has a long way to go in a relatively short amount of time. The more answers we get beyond “Debt is Killing Us 101,” the better chance we’ll have to move forward.”
“This is a very tough lift for the Legislature so we have to break every piece down to a level where Wall Street is understandable to Main Street,” said Senator Sweeney. “Obviously, we’re not there yet.”
Senator Buono said she is particularly concerned about the proposal’s impact on the upcoming State spending plan which the committee expects from the Administration at the end of next month.
“We’ve heard about the tolls and we’ve heard about the need to keep political influence out of the process,” Senator Buono said. “But we also need answers about other components of the plan like the call to keep State spending flat and how that will affect the overall budget. We have to balance the competing priorities of our constituents every day in the Legislature.”
The Senate Budget Chair said she is confident that there is bipartisan interest in getting detailed answers about the proposal which has drawn significant public turnout during three explanatory sessions held by the Governor over the last week.
“This is hardly “Government Light,”” Senator Buono said. “In the Governor’s own words, we’re being asked to make decisions that could have impacts on New Jersey residents for the next 75 years.”