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Governors and State Finance

Posted at 9:20 pm May 4, 2016, in NJ Governors

As we continue to grow the Center on the American Governor’s archives, we are also thinking about how best to refine and organize this material to make it as useful as possible. While it is relatively easy to focus on one particular governor and wander through the collected interviews, forums, documents and photos, it is more challenging to compare the approaches of multiple administrations to similar issues and situations.

The Center’s new analysis on Governors and State Finance is a major step in this new direction that we believe can be more immediately rich and relevant. Assisted with support from the Fund for New Jersey, we have assembled more than 100 relatively short video clips* that provide background information and both complementary and contrasting perspectives on New Jersey state fiscal policy and decisions from the mid-1960s through 2001.

Anyone can now log onto and watch and hear, for example:

  • Former State Treasurers Cliff Goldman and Dick Leone, and Assemblyman Al Burstein reflect on tax proposals advanced by Governors Hughes and Cahill;
  • One-time legislative leaders Joe Doria, John Lynch and Steven Perskie contrast how tax increases were enacted and promoted during the administrations of Governors Kean and Florio; and
  • Governors Florio and Whitman as well Florio officials Rick Wright, Sam Crane, Jon Shure and David Appelbaum and Whitman staffers and advisors Mike Torpey, Peter Veniero, Jim DiEleuterio, John Farmer, Pete McDonough and Candace Straight discuss the very different fiscal initiatives of those two governors.

We think all the clips are worth highlighting for their value in considering current and future fiscal policy for New Jersey as well as for their historical interest. If, however, you have time right now to view only one of them, we recommend #26. In it, Governor Brendan Byrne introduces the single TV ad that enabled him to rise from the taunts of “One-Term Byrne” and seemingly near-certain political oblivion in 1977 after he instituted New Jersey’s first income tax to a stunning re-election in which he first overcame 10 challengers from his own party and then defeated the widely-respected leader of the State Senate in November.

– Kris Shields and John Weingart

*About half are from one to five minutes in length and only five are longer than 10 minutes.