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Center on the American Governor > On Governors > New Jersey Governors > Governors and State Finance: Conclusion

Governors and State Finance: Conclusion

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A transcript of all interview excerpts on this page is available here. Links to full interviews are also available.

 

From 2001 Until Today

After Christine Todd Whitman resigned as governor on January 31, 2001 to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Senate President Donald DiFrancesco, per the succession rules at the time, became governor for the remainder of Whitman’s term before Democrat Jim McGreevey took office in January 2002. Subsequent New Jersey governors have included Democrats Richard Codey (who took over after McGreevey’s resignation in 2004) and Jon Corzine (2006-2010), and the current Republican governor, Chris Christie (2010-present). Each of these governors faced significant fiscal challenges and budget crises. New Jersey’s credit rating has been downgraded numerous times in recent years, while governors have frequently resolved budget deficits by borrowing money and/or underfunding the state’s pension system. Identifying solutions is more difficult than identifying the problems, but most onlookers agree that unless significant action is taken, a fiscal crisis could be imminent. The experience and reflections of those who have faced these issues in the previous decades can be valuable resources, both for better understanding the roots of the problem and for evaluating potential solutions.

 

Former State Treasurer (1976-1981) Cliff Goldman summarizes what he deems the major fiscal mistakes of New Jersey state government since Governor Brendan Byrne left office, with suggestions for how to alleviate some of the problems. Interview on February 6, 2007. (10:10)

Former State Treasurer (1997-1999) Jim DiEleuterio discusses whether consolidation could help improve the state's fiscal status. Interview on October 26, 2015. (3:15)

Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget Rich Keevey on the relationship between the state and federal economies; the importance of future year budget planning; and the need for a comprehensive review of both state and local spending and the state's revenue and tax structure. Interview on May 21, 2015. (6:11)

Reflections and Advice

Resolution—or at least mitigation—of the state’s fiscal issues will require not only strong leadership but also political courage. Many of the necessary decisions are likely to be unpopular and potentially politically damaging. Once again, however, the state’s leaders can draw on the experiences of the past for lessons on educating the public, mobilizing support (or at least minimizing opposition), and keeping the needs and wants of the state’s citizens in perspective.

 

Whitman Chief of Staff (1993-1994) Judy Shaw relates a story from early in her political career highlighting the importance of perspective and remembering what is truly important to constituents. Interview on October 24, 2012. (1:30)

Former State Treasurer Richard Leone (1974-1976) on how to begin down a path towards solving the state's fiscal crisis. Interview on June 9, 2015. (1:58)

Full Interviews:

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