The state of the State’s finances – long the enduring dominant issue in New Jersey – will be front-and-center during the 2017 gubernatorial campaigns and will help define the administration of the next governor.
What can be learned from the experience of past governors that might inform present and future public policy?
Focusing on the period from the mid-1960s through 2001 – a time when the annual New Jersey state budget grew from $590 million to $21.4 billion – the Center on the American Governor has compiled resources relevant to understanding the roots of the current fiscal situation. Included are about 100 short video clips (and transcripts) organized chronologically by administration and topic and accompanied by contextual explanation. They show former New Jersey governors, state treasurers, chiefs of staff, legislators and other officials describing the background to key fiscal decisions and reflecting on their ramifications.
This collection is intended to shed light from multiple perspectives, but it does not deliver absolute truths. Perhaps not surprisingly, even with the benefit of hindsight, past participants have differing memories of events and interpretations of their implications.
The clips below serve as a small sample of the clips available in the full project. For many more clips, as well as information and context on all of the excerpts, please visit the full project.
Former State Treasurer Cliff Goldman assesses New Jersey's present financial situation. (1:54)
Governor Brendan Byrne on the importance of a 1977 campaign advertisement admitting that he had previously been wrong about not needing a state income tax. Clip includes the advertisement. (2:16)
Governor Tom Kean recounts his positions on taxes, jobs, and the economy in the 1977 gubernatorial campaign, including his view of the applicability of supply-side economic theory at the state level. Interview on June 23, 2010. (5:43)
State Treasurer (1986-1990) Feather O'Connor Houston on the state's economic trends in the 1980s and Governor Kean's economic intuition. Interview on August 9, 2010. (3:45)
Governor Jim Florio on the challenges presented by the budget crisis and the impending Supreme Court decision on school funding and why he decided to act without delay. Interview on September 26, 2012. (3:55)
Governor Florio on public reaction to the Florio tax plan. Interview on September 26, 2012. (3:37)
Governor Christine Todd Whitman on proposing in her first Inaugural Address that the first tax cut would be immediate and retroactive, and the legislature's reaction to being taken by surprise. Interview on May 22, 2013. (4:51)
Chief Counsel (1997-1999) and future Attorney (1999-2002) General John Farmer, Jr., on the wisdom of the pension bond proposal; why it was hard to describe; and what its legacy should be. Interview on October 17, 2014. (4:27)
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)
Contents for Full Project