Monday, July 11, 2011

A Budget Of Retribution

I recently heard Sen. Buono describe the Governor's line item veto of some $900 million from the state budget as a retribution by budget.

I thought it an interesting perspective. Most of the so-called news coverage I have heard about the Governor's line item veto focused on women, children and AIDS patients. Certainly, these are the areas where Democrats will seek to override the Governor's veto. While I could understand (while disagreeing with) the Governor's decision that there was not enough money in the budget for these safety net social services, I would not say the Governor was trying to get back at women, children and AIDS patients.

What did occur to me was the huge amount of discretionary funding for urban areas that the Governor cut. Here, I could see retribution. The State Supreme Court ordered the Governor to send $500 million to urban areas to adequately fund schools. The Governor then responded by reducing State aid to urban areas by $140 million. This particular cut was labeled "vindictive" by Sheila Oliver and by Bonnie Watson-Coleman.

On the one hand, the Governor is catering to his base, wealthy suburbs which feel that too many of their tax dollars are sent to urban areas. On the other hand, the Governor was simply continuing to act as the unitary executive of New Jersey. The Supreme Court says to send more money? He just goes around the Supreme Court.

I think that the Sen. Buono, when using the word "retribution," has hit on a potentially powerful criticism of the Governor. Using the power of one's office to seek retribution against political enemies and taxpayers is not one of the qualities most people look for in a President. At least Nixon had the good sense to use intermediaries, for all the good it did him.

No comments:

Post a Comment