Former Treasurer Says ‘Bleak’ Financial Future Requires New Paradigm for Public Services

The newest Facing Our Future report paints a somewhat bleak picture of the financial future of New Jersey. Released by the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers (CNJG), the report shows that the state is facing many challenges, compounded by the economic downturn. Former State Treasurer and CNJG Trustee Sam Crane spoke with NJToday Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss the report and ways the state can resolve its economic issues.

Crane said even with good to moderate economic growth, New Jersey will face budgetary challenges over the next five years “because our revenues are not sufficient to meet our expenses.” He said while Gov. Chris Christie and members of the Legislature have enacted serious reforms in the last year, the problems are still great for local school districts and municipalities.

According to Crane, no resident is immune. “This is not an urban, a rural or suburban problem,” he said. “It is a statewide problem that will impact every municipality and every citizen.”

Consolidation is not the answer, Crane said. Instead, he said officials should look at how to share services and the delivery of those services. He also said New Jerseyans should look at other areas as a model, including Maryland which has school districts and police departments on a county level.

While Crane calls the situation “bleak,” he said there is hope. “It’s solvable basically by the taxpayers, citizens and political leaders really coming together around a set of priorities, deciding what’s most important and then figuring out how to get those services offered differently,” he said.

“The taxpayers and voters have gone through a terrible reset in their own lives given the economic conditions of the country. They’re ready for a new paradigm for the public services as well and I think the time is right to get a conversation going and that’s what ‘Facing Our Future’ is trying to do.”