Our neighbors in NJ have had it with feeding our addiction for state aid so they’re proposing to cut us off cold turkey. Like any addict, going cold turkey is the painful way to get clean. Whether or not all aid is cut is a debate, but it seems sure that a painful amount is in jeopardy.
To avoid this we as Trentonians (and forget the current administration for a minute) need to recommend a treatment plan that the state can live with. Citizens can form this plan and with the backing of enough of the serious candidates for Mayor and Council, Gov. Christie will take our commitment to “budget recovery” seriously. But first the patient has to want to be healed.
Some of our political candidates refuse to accept that the budget is overwhelming priority in this campaign. They need to be identified and flatly rejected by voters of good conscious in Trenton.
A serious minded plan from Trenton will include carrots and sticks and will have three main parts.
Define the problem: What is the sustainable amount of funding the state should provide to compensate for the footprint it has in Trenton? How much school funding is jeopardy? How much of a structural deficit gap does that leave us to fill?
Trenton’s Plan of Action: To what schedule will we commit to increase our revenue and reduce expenses in order to close the structural gap? What are our major tactics to do so? How should our efforts be supervised (we don’t have such a good track record)? Which shared services, including schools, need to be on the table?
Make the alternatives clear: What will Trenton’s negative reaction be towards not accepting our plan? Will we cut off police and fire protection in downtown Trenton? Will we file lawsuits? We will march on the capitol?
The writing has been on the wall for years but we have been blind to the signs. Let’s hope we as citizens and our political leaders are taking the Governor seriously and are up to the task of getting clean of state charity.
The Citizen’s Budget Committee is pursuing development of such a plan. Gov. Christie’s threat adds fuel to our fire.