Friday, June 1, 2012

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Continues to Show the Public His Ugly Side

Yes, That Means His Bullying and Abusive Side – Not His Posterior Ugly Side

In a surprising admission The Dismal Political Economist will confess that there are some things he likes about Republican Chris Christie who was elected Governor of New Jersey almost three years ago.  Mr. Christie has a solid and dedicated belief in equality before the law, and has even appointed Muslim and Gay people to positions in New Jersey government.  More importantly, he has vigorously defended his lack of prejudice from the ugly criticism of his Conservative colleagues.

But Mr. Christie has the tendency to also vigorously and personally attack anyone who disagrees with him.  The latest involves a budget projection that is at odds with what Mr. Christie thinks.  New Jersey has a non-partisan budget office serving the legislature, sort of a state version of the CBO.  Mr. Christie wants to cut taxes and balance the budget.

The Christie administration wants to take $200 million from the clean-energy fund to plug a hole in the state’s current budget and withhold money for transportation infrastructure projects next year to preserve Gov. Christie’s top priority for 2013: implementing a 10 percent income tax cut.

The revised $31 billion proposed budget depends on robust revenue growth that is higher than that predicted by two Wall Street rating agencies and the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS).

“I’m comfortable with where we are as of now,” State Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff said at an Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing this afternoon. “I recognize that it is a risk going forward and we will make adjustments as necessary.”

So naturally the legislative budget office was called upon to opine on the fiscal nature of the plan.  The Head of that organization forecast a serious budget deficit for the state.  Since New Jersey and its Republican Governor have championed the Republican policy of cutting taxes and have strongly argued that such a policy does not produce deficits, Mr. Christie was outraged that anyone would disagree.

But David Rosen, budget analyst for the OLS, expects state revenues will grow at 5.5 percent, a full percentage below Sidamon-Eristoff’s estimate for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1.

“To put it simply, revenues are rising too slowly to achieve the year-end targets,” Rosen testified before the budget committee this morning.

As the Assembly budget committee grappled with the differing predictions, Christie amped up the acrimony by calling Rosen, who has served nearly three decades in Trenton, “the Dr. Kevorkian of the numbers,” referring to the late proponent of physician-assisted suicide.

Christie, in comments following a transportation conference this morning in Trenton, questioned how “anyone with a functioning brain” would believe Rosen, who last year also disagreed with the state’s budget projections. The governor suggested that he is beholden to the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats.

Disagreements on budget projections occur all the time.  And it’s not as if Mr. Rosen does not have a good track record

The OLS has predicted a $1.3 billion budget shortfall over the next 14 months under Christie’s proposed budget, about twice what the state Treasury Department has estimated. Rosen said it is the largest gap between the two agencies in a decade. He also noted that since 2000, OLS has had a median margin of error of 3.2 percent in estimating revenues compared with a median margin of error of 3.9 percent for the executive branch.

Now a normal and reasonable person who disagreed with a deficit projection would state the basis of the disagreement and explain why they felt their forecast was better.  A bullying Republican Governor would just resort to name calling, which is what you do when you don’t have a rational and reasonable basis for disagreeing. 

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