Governor Thomas Kean was sworn into office on January 19, 1982, inheriting the $5.7 billion Fiscal Year 1982 budget from his predecessor, Governor Brendan Byrne. Byrne’s administration had presided over an expanding economy in its final years, allowing the budget to expand by nearly 10% each year throughout his two terms in office, interupted only by a single year of budget cuts in FY 1976 (the first in over 20 years). Governor Kean similarly presided over a largely expanding economy, allowing the state budget to continue to grow as tax receipts swelled.
Governor Kean’s first two budgets continued the steady expansion in state spending, but held that expansion to under 10% (FY 1983 and FY 1984). The next two budgets (FY 1985 and 1986) grew at a more rapid pace of almost 15% each year.
A slight slowdown in the state economy resulted in a reduced growth rate in the FY 1987 budget, which grew at only 4%. State spending again rebounded to rates exceeding 10% growth per year in FY 1988 and 1989. Only in his final year in office to Governor Kean experience a serious economic slowdown, forcing the administration to reduce the growth rate to just over 2%. Governor Kean’s final budget in FY 1990 of $12.1 billion was just under double the amount of his first in FY 1983, which was $6.2 billion.